Photos by Oliver Lopena
New York-based singer-songwriter Jillette Johnson performed at Tin Angel in Philly on Wednesday, 8/14 (read show preview here). She is currently touring in support of her excellent debut LP Water in a Whale, which is already starting to gain widespread attention and acclaim. The piano-based songstress started cutting her teeth at a young age, performing at such venerable Lower Manhattan acoustic venues as the SideWalk Cafe and The Bitter End; it’s no surprise, then, that she draws comparisons to fellow LES alum Regina Spektor.
Like many others, my first introduction to Johnson is relatively recent and occurred after the debut of her music video for “Cameron“; no doubt, it will be THE song that makes her a household name. In contrast to the inspirational “Cameron”, “Pauvre Coeur” tells a heartbreaking narrative of the demise of a relationship (watch the official music video below). The songs on Water in a Whale run the gamut from emotionally charged stripped-down numbers (like “Pauvre Coeur”) to full-on stadium-ready ballads (e.g., “Torpedo” and “Heathen“). Listen to the album in its entirety on Spotify.
Joined on stage only by her keyboard, Johnson opened her set with “True North”. She followed-up with “Basset Hound”, a song she mentioned singing at an auto body shop on her way to Philly in exchange for them fixing her flat tire (evidence here). Despite the bare bones accompaniment, her performance left nothing to be desired as she sang and played her a$$ off live like nobody’s business. She also debuted some new songs, one of which she played on acoustic guitar (“Cardboard Cutout Man”). As a nod to Thom Yorke (i.e., “the original king of writing songs about being really weird and being okay with that”), she performed a chilling rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep”, which had the audience completely mesmerized. She ended her set with “Pauvre Coeur”, after which she took time to meet everybody in the audience over some post-show imbibement. See the full setlist below.
Jillette Johnson – Setlist:
When the Ship Goes Down
Hair of the Dog*
Cardboard Cutout Man*
I Got a Tree*
Creep (Radiohead cover)
Keep scrolling to see more photos from the show and stay tuned for our exclusive interview.