Although Jesse Malley, lead singer of the outlaw country, blues and rock ’n’ roll band The Tilt, no longer lives in Santa Cruz, she was born and raised here and this is where her love of music and performance began. “My dad worked at The Catalyst for 27 years, so I got to see a lot of music acts come through town,” she says. “Music always seemed to me to be such an incredible way to express yourself that I just stumbled upon my voice and jumped into it.” That jump eventually led to Malley heading down to San Diego to pursue a music career, and her band The Tilt has just released their full-length debut, Howlin’.
Malley’s throaty growls mix seamlessly with some serious electric guitar riffs on the groovy rocker “Head On,” and on the country bluegrass stomper “Vultured Minds,” Malley sings about refusing to let people drag her into a negative mindset. The band’s ability to effortlessly move from one genre to another without pigeonholing themselves is something Malley says happens organically. “A lot of the diversity on the album comes as a result of the places we draw inspiration from,” says Malley. “John Urban plays the upright bass and does some incredible things with his bow, (guitarist) Jeff Irwin is great with his instrumentation—he plays the mandolin in ‘Restless,’ for example—and we also have a fiddle on a couple [of] songs. Jeff and I also draw inspiration from a lot of old blues and soul and rock ’n’ roll. So the songs often start off as one idea and grow into this inspired piece of music we didn’t expect to write when we started!” And the best part? It is as easy it looks. “Jeff and I write together and it’s just a breeze,” Malley laughs. “It never has to be forced and so we end up coming up with more songs than we know what to do with.” | BRIAN PALMER
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 22. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $7/adv, $10/door. 479-1854.