When in Rome and abandoned by your boyfriend, do as Sinatra would do— write music. TEss, otherwise known as Tess Amodeo-Vickery ’07, has the advantage of being distantly related to Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, which maybe explains her gorgeous and charming voice.
TEss is no mere amateur, obviously. The New York native is the frontwoman/lead vocalist for Tess and the Yellow Cabbies, a jazz combo in Rome, and her love of jazz is obvious in her solo work. Playing guitar, though, is a little bit of a new development in her career:
One night, I was in my room in Rome and I got this feeling like I thought I might throw up or implode. For whatever reason, I grabbed my guitar and somehow a song came out. Like, I knew how to play guitar and compose music out of nowhere, having not touched my guitar since Freshmen year at Wes. I guess that’s what inspiration is.
With production help from her father (also a musician, with whom she covered Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”), she recorded an album in their home studio. The demo ended up in the hands of first Kool A.D. (Victor Vazquez ’06) and then hip-hop mogul Damon Dash, who expressed interest in producing TEss’ EP. That’s a huge compliment for the burgeoning musician, but well-earned.
“When I Think About You” is the first taste of TEss’ upcoming album, and her jazz stylings are pretty evident. After all, the tune was recorded with the talented musicians of the Yellow Cabbies— a tight group with bass, drums, guitar and piano. Sounding much like the pop songstress Ingrid Michaelson, TEss sings easily and lightly, even adding some “ooh la la la”s in the background and the occasional vocal harmony for herself.
If two and a half minutes of pop-folk isn’t enough to please you, Tess and the Yellow Cabbies have some excellent recordings available online. My favorite is their Amy Winehouse cover “Love Is a Losing Game.” TEss is at her emotive best, with the bass player backing her up like only a good bass player can. Plus that sax is like buttah. I hope the band stays with her for the rest of her solo EP, because this sort of instrumentation behind pop music is a recipe for success.