The director: While many artists covet Hollywood starlets for their videos, most prefer them to be in front of the camera. Singer/songwriter Jessie Baylin, however, enlisted Scarlett Johansson for the other (less-photogenic) side of the lens. Johansson makes her music video directorial debut with this video for “Hurry Hurry,” the first single off Baylin’s third album, Little Spark. Though the movie star is a neophyte in the director’s chair, she is certainly no stranger to music videos. She has made a couple for her own songs and starred in Justin Timberlake’s sexy, cinematic clip for “What Goes Around…Comes Around.” Why did she pick Baylin’s song for her first directing project? Because the two women are old pals who attended New York’s Professional Children’s School together. “One of the greatest gifts of growing up with Jessie has been watching her develop as a musician,” director Scarlett Johansson told MTV Hive.
The video: It’s simple. Just one continuous shot of Baylin, clad all in black, walking back and forth on the gray, rain-streaked pedestrian path of the Manhattan Bridge. But bathed in warm, soft light against the city’s steely skyline, Baylin glows -- at times literally. A visual effect makes it appear, occasionally, like trails of light are shimmering off her golden curls or are following the movements of her limbs. It’s a bit like an acid flashback, but it is also a necessary arty flourish for the otherwise straightforward clip.
The song: It’s hard to not hear “Hurry Hurry” as autobiography. Newly Nashville-based for her husband (Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill,) Baylin has written a swoony track that marries hazy, orchestral melodies with Baylin's smoke-and-honey voice front-and-center. A whimsical harp that introduces and closes the track adds levity, keeping the song from getting bogged down in its subject’s sentimental reality.
It’s easy to talk about Baylin in terms of her famous friends, thanks to her bold-faced best friend and her platinum-selling partner, not to mention collaborators like Richard Swift, who provided the dreamy arrangements for “Hurry Hurry” and the rest of Little Spark. But that would be unfair to Baylin. She’s more than just someone with an enviable address book. As “Hurry Hurry” proves, she’s a deft storyteller who can juggle detailed specificity with plainspoken prose and a gifted vocalist who adds the peppery polish of vintage country singers to her modern melodic sensibility.
Little Spark is out now.