With her nuanced lyricism and shapeshifting vocals, Nashville-based singer/songwriter/pianist Jillette Johnson is the rare artist who needs little sonic accompaniment to make an indelible impact. Produced by Dave Cobb (the Grammy Award-winner known for his work with Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson), Johnson’s sophomore album All I Ever See in You Is Me offers up sparsely orchestrated songs centering on her spirited piano work and graceful vocal command. Like only the most timeless songwriters, Johnson finds infinite depth within that simplicity, tapping into her quiet intensity and classic sensibilities to capture the subtlest of feelings.
Recorded at RCA Studio A—the historic Nashville space where Dolly Parton laid down "Jolene” and "I Will Always Love You” in the same three-hour span—All I Ever See in You Is Me bears an unhurried pace and warm intimacy that echoes the purposeful looseness of its production. "We didn’t overthink anything—we just went in and tracked the songs live and stuck with our instincts, then drank a lot of tequila when we were done,” says Johnson. "It wasn’t a high-pressure situation at all, and because of that there’s a humanity to the album that feels really good to me.”
At the same time, All I Ever See in You Is Me unfolds with an eloquence that reveals Johnson’s natural sophistication as a songwriter. Drifting between hazy romanticism and resolute self-awareness, the album examines heartbreak and resilience with a willful vulnerability. From song to song, Johnson heightens that emotionality with the ever-changing texture of her voice, an instrument that’s irresistibly powerful whether she’s belting out a refrain or whispering a hushed melody.
On "Bunny”—the starkly arranged opening track to All I Ever See in You Is Me—Johnson’s soulful voice climbs and descends as she details her lifelong determination to create music that’s true to her heart. "I’ve been making music since I was a little kid, and it’s always just been about the fact that I love writing songs and playing them for people,” says Johnson, who’s now 27. "‘Bunny’ is about reminding myself of that, and remembering that—no matter what happens—I’ll always have the ability to keep doing this thing that I love so much.”
Throughout All I Ever See in You Is Me, Johnson also channels that sense of self-possession into songs like "Love Is Blind.” With its determined groove and gauzy guitar tones, the track finds her fiercely embracing independence ("You think you can fix this crack, build a future from the past… I’d rather be alone”). Sparked by a solo getaway at a cabin in Joshua Tree, "Throw Out Your Mirror” brings Johnson’s stirring delivery to a measured exploration of self-image. "While I was there I realized that I hadn’t looked in the mirror in a week, and it felt amazing,” she says. "So many people, especially women, have had the experience of feeling like your only value is how you look—and if you don’t look good, then you’re not worth anything. Removing that element made me realize how important it is to focus on the things that matter, and to try to see yourself the way you’re seen by the people who love you.”