Jill Sobule belongs to a rare breed of artists. Her work is at once deeply personal and socially conscious, seriously funny and derisively tragic. Over five albums and a decade of recording, the Denver-born songwriter/guitarist/singer has tackled such topics as the death penalty, anorexia, shoplifting, reproduction, the French resistance movement, adolescence, and the Christian right. Did we mention love? Love found, love lost, love wished for and love taken away.
While her songs cover a huge amount of ground, they all have benefit greatly from Jill’s subtle intelligence and skillful light-handedness. No sloganeering flag-and-fist waving here, but rather story songs about human beings, real and imagined, which allow us to step back from the issue, be it personal or social, and relate to it as we would a close friend.
To see Jill live and in concert is a rare treat. It is on stage that she is most comfortable, most powerful, and where the delicacy and range of her work can be best appreciated. She entertains, amuses, provokes, and more often then not, takes her audiences on an emotional roller coaster, from comedy to pathos in a few bars of music.
Jill began playing guitar when she joined the Junior High School band. She never learned to read music, though, and faked her way through rehearsals and performances by playing by ear. As she began writing songs, it was very clear to Jill this was becoming more than a teenage hobby. Music was serious stuff. She played in a variety of funk and rock bands in Colorado, and eventually made her first, Todd Rundgren-produced, album for MCA, Things Here Are Different.
But success did not knock on her door until three years later, when Atlantic Records released her MTV staple and national top 20 hit I Kissed A Girl. “That song was a double-edged sword for me,” Jill Says. “It was perceived as a novelty hit, but on the other hand it was the first song with an overtly gay topic to be aired on Top 40 radio. I am quite proud of that.” The self-titled album also yielded another hit song, Supermodel, included in the Clueless soundtrack.
The song also jumpstarted her live music career in a big way, and since then she’s had the honor to induct Neil Diamond in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, to share the stage with the likes of Neil Young (at his yearly Bridge School benefit concerts), fellow activists Billy Bragg & Steve Earle, and Waren Zevon. Quite the serious guitar player, she even toured the world as lead guitarist in Lloyd Cole’s band a few years back.
Since then, she has made three more critically acclaimed albums, Happy Town, Pink Pearl, and 2004’s Underdog Victorious. She has played the role of political troubadour for NPR stations across the country and for Air America Radio.
A veritable gypsy, Jill divides her time between a her busy touring schedule and, since last year, her responsibilities as songwriter/composer for the Nickelodeon network hit show, Unfabulous. She composed the music for the off-Broadway show Prozak and the Platypus and co-starred in the Eric Schaeffer film Mind the Gap.
In the words of New York Times pop music critic Jon Pareles, “Jill Sobule can claim her place among the stellar New York singer-songwriters of the last decade. Topical, funny and more than a little poignant...grown-up music for an adolescent age.”
The Critics Speak...
"Jill Sobule can claim her place among the stellar New York singer-songwriters of the last decade.Topical, funny and more than a little poignant ...grown-up music for an adolescent age." Jon Pareles, New York Times “Vocally gifted and lyrically witty ... a peerless satirist.” People Magazine
“A feisty post-punk feminist whose work brings to mind a cross between Liz Phair and Gertrude Stein.” The New Yorker
“Sobule crafts smart, neoclassic pop with a middle child's talent for attentiongetting.” Entertainment Weekly “Where other 'quirky' musicians stagnate or flameout, Sobule only gets stronger... In the gets-better-with-every-album race, she's the rare real deal.” Amazon.com
“Songwriting skills that transcend her one-novelty-hit wonder status.” Village Voice “Witty & clever.” Vanity Fair
“Jill Sobule's winning ways tend to charm almost anyone who encounters the New York-based musician. Carried along on bouncy, irresistible melodies, her storylike lyrics combine wit and pathos with remarkable grace.” Utne Reader
“One of pop's best satirists.” New York Daily News
“Sobule possesses the uncommon ability to combine lilting, infectious melodies with personal and socially relevant lyrics, and then couch them in artfully crafted arrangements ... A top pop tunesmith.” CMJ New Music Report
“A deft ironist. She is smart and original, a treasure undervalued by inevitable association with countless lessers who also happen to be singing about going to the laundromat in Brooklyn.” The New Republic
“On songs that act as many self-contained vignettes, she captures life's little miseries and epiphanies with economy and understated humor.” Amazon.com
“It's Sobule's gift, and the core of her humanity, that she cherishes her characters just as they are. She renders their lives with a sweet humor that never flinches from the sad truth... Sobule shows a great eye for satire... [but she] lends her tales an extra layer of tenderness through her deadpan vocal delivery. Her Bacharachlike lounge-pop tunes also keep things light. But underneath the froth lies Sobule's need to speak honestly about what it's like to live mainly inside your head." (Underdog Victorious listed as one of the "Magnificent 7 ... terrific recent CDs that slipped under the mainstream radar") Jim Farber, New York Daily News "Each record [Jill Sobule has] released ... has been better than the last... Her lyrics are always catchy and funny and smart; her hooks and choruses are always finetuned and elusive... There's a truth to her stories; it's impossible to avoid. Not that anyone except a total sourpuss would want to." Will Hermes, All Things Considered, National Public Radio
"Jill Sobule shares with her old pal, the late Warren Zevon, a skewed view of the world and a gift for a story well told. But where Zevon was often acerbic, there is a warmth to Sobule's world view... Wise, witty and warm material from a singersongwriter who, alas, has flown under radar too often throughout her career." Jeff Wisser, Chicago Sun-Times
“Sobule is a true pop aficionado, and her melodies have never suffered from the run-of-the-mill, singer/songwriter trappings of the genre. " James Christopher, All Music Guide
“[Underdog Victorious is] as solid as efforts by any number of hipster faves, and five times as catchy." Time Out New York
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