most soul artists can caress listeners with a song, but how many can say their music reaches out and asks for a caress in return? Jill McCracken knows comfort goes both ways, and she’d like her share of the love, please and thank you.
As one of Boston’s leading singer-songwriters, McCracken paints with strokes of compassion and warmth, using her long-standing love of songcraft to grip listeners to the soft spots of her heart. Her ears are trained to translate tenderness into works of art — and so is her eye for sentimental visuals, thanks in part to a BFA in Fine Art Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Originally from western New York, McCracken’s obsession with strong songs began at just eight years old, long before she began tinkering on the guitar and drums as a preteen. It wasn’t until she was 19 that the world got to hear her strongest instrument – her voice – but she’s been using it to embrace crowds ever since.
Now rooted at the core of the Boston music community, McCracken’s passion for writing, arranging, and producing music remains front and center in her career, although her knack for pivoting between sparse solo sets and boisterous big band performances is just as impressive. (Fans who gathered at her headlining Brighton Music Hall performance in May can happily confirm this).
“I’ve always been a lot:
McCracken’s May 2022 song “help me, hold me, heal me” took a literal approach to her signature call for openness, rousing a bold sound that asks for gentle patience and understanding. The single’s outreach clearly resonated with the scene; in recent months, McCracken nabbed a New England Music Award for “Soul/R&B Act of the Year,” as well as a nod from NEMA in the “Female Performer of the Year” category and a Boston Music Award nomination for “Singer Songwriter of the Year.”
After wrapping up 2022 with a West Coast tour, McCracken extends a piece of herself again, unveiling her new single “just right” on February 22. The new song helps her catalog come full circle, offering the earnest reassurance that “help me, hold me, heal me” pleads for.
“i’ve always been a lot – big ideas, high standards, loud voice. we all internalize lessons about how we should be in the world, and i learned to shrink myself down. the best way to keep the peace was for me to be an ‘easy’ kid; there wasn’t much space for messy and complicated feelings, so i just denied mine altogether for so much of my life. ‘just right’ is a love song to myself and to anyone else who needs to hear this: you’re not too much, you’re not too little– you’re just right, just as you are.”