Denton singer-songwriter Jessie Frye is a fascinating study in contrasts. On record, she's deceptively demure, purring into the microphone in a husky, come-hither voice. In concert, she's a perspiring, kinetic wreck, unable to stay seated at her piano for very long, often appearing to teeter on the edge of a complete nervous breakdown. Either way, Frye is in total control, conveying her intimate compositions with skill, placing her at the forefront of area songstresses.
Her new EP, Fireworks Child, comes closest yet to fully capturing that dichotomy. Produced by John Congleton and following 2008's well-received EP The Delve, Frye finds the subtlety in love's pursuit (Fortune Teller) just as she elegantly captures the slow death of romance in the big city (Red Angel White Devil). Backed by a crisp, more-than-capable band (drummer Matt Olmstead, bassist Hunter Johnson and guitarist Simon Stipp), every track on Child is captivating, gorgeously rendered stuff. (Startlingly intimate closer Sleeping Tornadoes may be the track that will linger the longest.)
Frye has been steadily playing around town and at South by Southwest over the last three years, landing opening slots for high-profile shows such as Pat Benatar and Joan as Police Woman. Fireworks Child is just the sort of appetizer the unconverted need as motivation: Become intrigued by the stylish, richly observed songs on record and fall completely head over heels in concert. Provided she maintains her relentless work ethic and continues composing songs that reward repeated listens, Frye is bound for big things.
She will celebrate the release of Fireworks Child at 10 p.m. Friday at Dan's Silverleaf, opening for Tiger Darrow, Bravo, Max! and Spooky Folk and again at 9 p.m. May 13 at Dallas' La Grange, with Salim Nourallah, Chris Holt and Manned Missiles.