BIRDS Jenifer Jackson
Like a flower bursting through the sidewalk, the timeless songs of Jenifer Jackson softly compel those with eyes and ears left to stop and witness beauty. Her singularity is inspiring and her vision keen. It's a gift of this artist to the admirer that her sonic canvas calls up waves of buried or hidden feeling, without pushing buttons or even engaging the mind with words. Her lyrics are beautiful too, but it's the melodies and the changes that always slay me in Jenifer's music, it's the mood.
We reviewed JJ's radiant Slowly Bright in a previous issue and there are interesting comparisons between the records that one can make just by investigating the clips. Slowly Bright was made with her crew and friends in NYC and Boston. There is a variety of sterling players involved, produced and mixed mostly by Steve Rosenthal and David Poe. Birds was conceived with a Nashville pop crew at our favorite place, Alexander the Great Studio, with Brad Jones at the wheel. He said to me once about this record, "We basically let Jenifer's tunes dictate the treatment, and tried to leave them alone as much as possible." And although there are some exciting Phil Spector moments, the tunes are treated essentially, and with an offhanded looseness that lets them breathe freely. The fabulous steel guitar of Tommy Hannum in both country traditional and pop orchestral approaches is a major ingredient, and I was surprised to hear a few tunes that had a folk or country feel that was accentuated. It's a lovely counterpoint to JJ's pop side that has both jazzy and 60s elements, to name a couple.
But the players all need a mention, since on this record there are only a half dozen. Brad Jones always plays fabulous bass, and contributes an array of samples, plus harmonium and guitar. The cat is quietly building a legend, he's always working. Pat "The Wig" Sansome is so right on vibes, marimba and keyboards. Will Kimbrough plays some great and surprising guitar, and Josh Rouse lays really nice backup vocals. In a big way, I dig Mickey Grimm's drumming on the record, he's like a jazzy Keith Moon on the skins.
The tunes on this record were featured in a lauded movie by Debra Eisenstadt, details in the other review. On top of being irrepressibly beautiful, this music is stress reducing. Listen to it twice and call me in the morning. FG