Articles featuring photography by Jessica-Rose Lena

About Jessica-Rose Lena

Jessica-Rose Lena has contributed 2 photographs to Hot Music Live.

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"Used To Be" by YNES


When reviewing the last YNES single (the eviscerating "Better Job", which also featured Ace Ambrose), among several adjectives I used, one was "exciting" and that pretty much can come into play again to describe the feelings on hearing that this dynamic artist whose enthusiasm & panache seem to have few if any bounds, has come up with another single, "Used To Be" which is released this Friday (14th May): a handful of days after her birthday so it might (in a slightly skewed way naturally) be perceived as a gift.

Crafted at Woodbine Studios with the help of John Rivers (the go-to producer for all the local punk bands of the first 1976-8 wave), what you get is what the combination of an artist with few inhibitions about articulating her feelings working with a producer of international reputation & more than four decades' worth of experience in capturing power, energy & truth beautifully but without compromising it, would lead you to expect.

"Used To Be" builds itself up in a steady (if not relentless) fashion. If last time out the predominant feelings seemed to be anger & a withering sarcasm, on this single, the fury is dialled back as the subject matter doesn't call for it: what we get instead is another facet of this most interesting artist: one which embraces nostalgia, reflection on how her life has changed  & empathy. By about the three minute mark you suddenly realise just how far the volume & intensity has risen while you've been listening, yet then in a powerful switch of dynamics, the passion drops down into pathos & wistfulness for the coda: just right. (The striking cover art takes the wistfulness to extremes: it makes her look like a piteous Dickensian orphan)

Apart from the "punk" epithet, YNES also self describes as having Britpop roots & when I heard "Used To Be", my immediate thought was my appreciation of the debut album of Lily Allen: it shares that wit, a sense of enjoying wordplay coupled with an apparent desire to write lyrics in a way which people (especially of YNES' own generation) articulate themselves rather than in the sterile code into which (over)conventional lyric writing too often slips. There is (thankfully) much more of this approach around these days than there was years ago (especially round our way) with so many true voices, not necessarily sharing YNES' or indeed anyone else's particular style.

I can hardly wait to hear whatever she comes up with next (I can't begin to second guess her) and in other excellent news, YNES has dates where we can catch her & her band live in the coming weeks: on Thursday June 3rd at the George Tavern in London, at the Bigfoot Festival at Ragley Hall on Saturday June 19th and at Birmingham's Sunflower Lounge on Saturday June 26th.

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"Better Job" by YNES featuring Ace Ambrose


Now this is very exciting…..a most powerful & compelling collaboration between YNES and "Hot Music Live Presents" artist Ace Ambrose called "Better Job" has just been released.

On this YNES single, Ace (who we last heard from on her own single "Doomsayer" in November 2020) plays lead guitar: her first time I think as a featured instrumentalist & which shows yet another of her many talents. (Credit also to Felan Quirke on drums).

The two fit together perfectly as they share an uncompromising approach to their art. If Ace's new Gal Fawkes identity evolves her already radical character into new areas of activism, then Coventry based YNES has clearly already inhabited similar territory.

Together they assault the appalling governmental treatment of the arts over past months (I shan't catalogue their failings & malice: you know them & anyway YNES makes such a good job of taking them on, my words are superfluous on the subject). If the powers that be hold creatives in contempt & are conspiring to neuter them & silence their voices, here is an artist who will not lie down meekly & let it happen. This is not someone who will permit herself to be persuaded to retrain for something "better" and more docile.

The energy in "Better Job" is tremendous & the frankly punk mentality drives its point home with a ferocity rarely heard these days & which the subject requires. If YNES' snarling passionate words make the case beyond doubt, leaving no room for misunderstanding, then the vicious stabs of Ace's guitar punctuate the text equally appropriately.

There is such a refreshing breeze of honest statement which we certainly need: both in terms of the actual focus of "Better Job" but also more broadly in keeping the scene vibrant, dynamic & true: no wonder YNES is such a talked about artist currently. I don't remember ever exhorting readers to PLAY IT LOUD in a review, but I do here.

May the Government take note & act more righteously. The writing may be on the wall….

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From the back catalogue