Nessa Barrett – american jesus

In the beginning, Nessa Barrett was kneeling in a field in the middle of the night. She looked like an angel as massive, white wings protruded from her back with a stoic yet angelic gaze that would eventually set the tone for how she’d be perceived going forward. Having crafted such a sentiment early on in her career, that one snapshot – the one that is now displayed on the album of her debut record young forever – also describes her sound and the artist herself, whose edgy, gothic pop is grounded in stories about heartache, mental health, and accountability. Now, only a year later after crafting something truly special with 2022’s debut, Barrett is back at it again with her latest single “american jesus” – a track that finds the young star stripping back the layers, putting her vulnerable side on display for all to see. 

Following the release of “BANG BANG!”, a fiery punk-inspired anthem that weaves fantasies of revenge into screeching guitar riffs, “american jesus” is the complete opposite. It’s all about longing, infatuation, and desire. “It’s about the fantasy of someone who is your savior, your cowboy in a crown,” Barrett says in a press release. “Everyone dreams about a love that’s heavenly, and I know everyone will be able to relate to this.”

Although an acoustic rendition of the track was included on the singer’s most recent tour setlist, the studio version brings the sultry, unapologetic anthem to a whole new level with additional instrumentals and intricate production. The slow-driven beat, which underlines Barrett’s intimate intonation, gives way to juxtaposing lyrics as the singer-songwriter describes her partner. “He’s got a cross on his neck,” she sings. “But he spends Sundays in my bed.” 

Directed by Loris Russier, the accompanying visuals place Barrett in classic, small-town America. She’s cruising on the back of a motorcycle, with the object of her affection, down endless back roads and as sunset falls, the pair unofficially get married and dance the night away. Talk about living in a timeless romantic comedy.

Just hours after its release, it became clear that Barrett’s soothing vocals and clever lyrics have only continued to impress listeners yet again as, despite having only made its debut on the 20-year-old’s recent sold-out tour, the track immediately became a fan favorite.

To say it’s been a busy week for Barrett would be an understatement as not only has the pop provocateur bounced back with another incendiary single, but she’s also been unveiled as one of the faces for SKIMS’ new campaign; though we’re only four months into the year, with bangers like “BANG BANG!” and “american jesus” under her belt, Nessa Barrett is destined to continue making new fans with her deliciously devious brand of gothic pop.