Jess Abbot’s post-Now, Now career has so far consisted of a series of increasingly confident releases under her Tancred moniker, from the relatively minimalist ‘Capes’, through to 2016’s loud and outspoken ‘Out Of The Garden’. And on ‘Nightstand’, the singer-songwriter continues along that trajectory with her most cohesive, accomplished and undeniably catchy collection of songs to date.
Where once Tancred’s choruses came out of speakers like an explosion of nervous energy, ‘Queen Of New York’ and ‘Reviews’ harness that energy with a tight focus that elevate Jess to the top table of jangly indie-rock songwriting. Elsewhere, ‘Clipping’ and ‘Strawberry Selfish’ entrance at lower tempos, showing range, growth and a now-refined approach to spacious melodies that offer the busier songs around them some necessary room to breathe.
Closer, ‘Rowing’ is the culmination of it all. Its verses are a somehow downtrodden-yet-blissful sequence of observations that build patiently to the bittersweet admission of “The world is easier when I get high” in the chorus. All at once Jess offers self-doubt, self-affirmation and a hook that embeds itself by the end of its second repetition. It’s a perfect summation of everything that Nightstand explores and a shining example of the quality of song Tancred is capable of in 2018.