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Jess Meilman cites pop-R&B superstar Tori Kelly as an influence, and from the first vocal riff of Meilman’s debut single, “Guilty Soulmate”, it’s easy to see why.

Like Kelly, Meilman sings with an ear-catching amount of soul.

“Guilty Soulmate” opens with swelling ambient guitar chords and a smooth vocal riff, as Meilman descends effortlessly from a falsetto into her emotive lower register. The lyrics arrive soon after, bringing along an easy R&B beat that carries the song forward without crowding its soundscape. The simplicity of the song belies its depth; “Guilty Soulmate” is sparse, but it’s thought-provoking. The chorus unpacks the strange paradox of seeming-inevitability and nagging doubt that often goes with love:

“I pray I haven’t strayed you away / from your guilty soulmate.”

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“The two words ‘Guilty Soulmate’ aren’t really seen together in the same sentence,” says Meilman. “How can the divinity and purity of a soulmate be related to guilt?” The song turns that question over but never quite settles on an answer – which only makes it more likely to get stuck in your head.

In addition to Kelly, Meilman cites Maggie Rogers for songwriting inspiration, and there’s certainly a catchiness to the song’s melodies that evokes something like Rogers’ “Love Your For A Long Time”. In the end, though, “Guilty Soulmate” is unique. Sparse but soulful, deep but desperately catchy, it’s a triumphant entry from a new indie-soul talent.

“Guilty Soulmate” was produced by Sné and Alex Siegel in Los Angeles and is the first of a series of singles to be released by Jess Meilman in 2022.

Jess Meilman’s career was launched with soulful features in songs by EDM artist Adam Kahati, but 2022 marks her arrival as a solo indie artist. Originally from New York, Meilman quit her 9-5 in 2021 and moved to LA to bring the songs in her voice memos to life. There’s a wealth of music waiting to be made; Meilman grew up singing, songwriting, and performing, and was often found in her family’s piano room creating songs for hours on end. It was here that she honed her artistry, leaning into the soundscapes of Tame Impala, SZA, and Felly, among others.

Meilman explains her approach to crafting music simply: “Creativity without force creates intuitive magic.” An empath, she feels things deeply and writes with a desire to connect, heal, and understand herself and the world through music. She turns her sensitive self-reflection into catchy tracks that hold surprising depth and come straight from the heart.

Debut single “Guilty Soulmate” is the first of many exciting things to come for Meilman, who has been in the studio with Sné and Alex Siegelin Los Angeles, working on a collection of music to be released in 2022.