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Spotlight: Jess McAllister


In our latest Spotlight, there is a focus on up and coming music locally, this time around it’s Devon’s own Jess McAllister.

When I say Indie/ Folk music I want you to think of the lyrical fire of Regina Spektor paired with the haunting melodic sounds of Laura Marling or Lucy Rose.

Jess McAllister, a University of Exeter alumnus, is a Devon based singer/songwriter/guitar and keyboard playing talent. Jess became more serious about music at Exeter University when she became part of a reggae band called Peachy Farmer. Since then she has smashed into the local solo music industry with her mellow guitar riffs and relatable lyrics.


Of late, Jess is becoming a big name in the local music scene, and has recently made a music video with fellow local musician Joshua Burnside. Most recently, she has had a mention on BBC 6 Music as well as considerable air time on BBC Devon introducing.  She has also played at a local festival and has supported the amazing Martha Reeves (she sang that song in the sixties, Dancing in the Street). Just search Jess McAllister on Google and you will be welcomed with dozens of music review sites commenting on her “honey dipped vocal harmonies”.

Jess herself recognises the nature of the music industry and is totally aware that it is full of young people with incredible voices jostling to become the next big thing. However, it is her humble nature which makes her awe-inspiring music so much more impressive. She is not self indulgent and is under no illusions regarding the talent of those around her. In her own words she simply wants to offer “a little piece of (herself):- songs written in times of happiness, anguish or irritation, about real people.” Her music offers a glimpse into her life in Exeter with her husband and 4 year old son. Her music is beautiful and emotive and in this sense is that much more special to those lucky enough to come across it.

Jess recently launched her first EP Painted Faces. This was of course paired with a launch party full of folk as musically refreshing as her. The Emerald Armada and Emily Wood from the increasingly well-known band ‘Emily and the Woods’, to name a few. However, Jess stole the show (or kept it, since it was hers anyway!) singing all of the songs from her EP as well as other favourites amongst her fans. Her songs such as Never Mind Buying Time or Take a Walk paint a picture of her life as a student in Exeter and subsequently her life as a wife and mother and are always crowd pleasers.  Jess certainly is a musical force to contend with, her music successfully combines the fun of live acoustic music with the clever musical layering of wide reaching vocals and an array of string instruments played by her friends and other local musicians (featured on her EP). Don’t be too surprised when she becomes a household name!


Jess is often gigging in and around Exeter, at the Phoenix, the Revelry, The Bike Shed and soon in the Real Food Cafe. She also recently toured Belfast, London, Bristol and her home town Plymouth.

Amelia Power

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