IOU Music Album Review: Sometimes a Girl Needs the Blues
I was introduced to the Jenni Dale Lord Band a couple albums ago as a country artist, and while her lyrics fit that mold, her musical style moves from genre-to-genre with fluidity. Every album has a backbone slightly different than the rest, but the limbs of each song may grow close or swing wide. Being that eclectic can sometimes get messy, but Jenni and crew always seem to wrap everything up in a way that makes sense and is ever-pleasing for the listener.
I have a soft spot for artists who are not afraid to explore, and what I love most about Jenni is that she won’t put herself in a box. While her voice is unmistakably rich, she walks a unique line between country, blues, rock, and a dozen other micro-genres throughout.
This is the second album I have reviewed for her and either someone broke her heart like few have been broken, or she has one hell of an imagination. This poor woman bleeds every word of every sad song, and it hurts. I imagine her writing songs like “Still” in her living room with nothing more than an old piano and a bottle of red wine, her cat staring at her, wondering why humans are such pathetic creatures. I’d almost swear I’d seen a music video for this song by the picture it paints in my head. The subtle production, keeping her pain-filled voice the focus, makes it a true standout on the album for me.
In the same vein, “Go Do You” is what JDL does best; sad songs. This one plays a bit like “Still”, in the sense that it’s a heartbreak song before the breakup, but it is written from a different place. I love it because it’s another slightly different spin on the feelers that Jenni already does so well. One writer’s note on this one though: Boston (Or anywhere else) has NOTHING on northern New England in the fall!
‘He loves Me More’ is likely to be the song that Texas radio fans will recognize as a bit more like her recent radio singles, and it’s a barn burner with a healthy dose of that sweet, sweet pedal steel. This feels like it will be the crowd-pleaser of the bunch, I will be very surprised if we don’t see this one released as a single. That said, this album has me hooked more on the piano or wah driven sensitive bangers like the title track.
I love the 80’s rock intro of “I had a feeling”, and the lyric “Just because I saw it coming, doesn’t mean I had it planned” is pure gold. I’m reminded of courting my wife just out of high school; after an amazing summer I sent her off to college to enjoy her next 4 years unencumbered, then crossed my fingers that keeping in touch would be enough. Three and a half years later we got back together (For a concert date, surprise!) and less than a year later I was on one knee.
If I had to throw a piece of criticism at ‘Sometimes a Girl Needs the Blues’, it would be the same reason that I love it; it may have a hard time finding a regular home on radio. Because there are so many different influences each song almost stands on its own; I could see “He Loves Me More” on Texas country radio, “Still” on more of an easy listening station, and “Lover Don’t Leave” on whatever station is still playing sexy Prince songs regularly.
Obviously that criticism is not really criticism, but rather a hurdle. If Jenni’s last album was written from the booth of a dusty dive bar, this one was written from a claw foot bathtub by candlelight. It feels more mature, more painful at times, but with dignity. Starting the album with the title track is perfect foreshadowing of what is to come; an album written by a woman who knows herself rather than a girl still trying to figure it out. Beautiful through and through.
Douglas Palmer, IOUMusic
IOU Music Album Review: Reboot
While a song from her previous album continues to climb the Texas charts (“Already Gone” is currently #25 on TRRR), Jenni Dale Lord Band dropped a new album on us last week; that album is called ‘Reboot’ and it’s a stunner. There is a comforting familiarity to her music, even on first listen; this is the kind of artist that will make a new fan out of you when you weren’t looking.
Jenni is one that just spits out earworm after earworm. Each of her albums has a distinctly different sound, and while I enjoy them all, ‘Reboot’ has a lyrical style that conveys well with her vocals and effortlessly finds a spot in the corner of my brain.
‘Reboot’ came in under the radar for me; I was turned onto Jenni’s current radio single, but I gravitated to her new album almost immediately, falling in love with its varying degrees of honky-tonk and folky Americana. With lyrical content that feels like it was written from the corner booth of a low-lit down-and-outer bar, this one will hit you right in your country soft spot.
Jenni’s voice has a style that doesn’t need to prove it’s feminine; it doesn’t drip with sugary sweetness, there is power and confidence in her delivery. That’s not to say that it’s trying to be something it’s not, quite the contrary, I don’t think for a second that there is anything but honesty and reality in the delivery of her emotional lyrics. Some of the analogies and comparisons might seem cliché with someone else delivering them, but Jenni sings them in a way that leads us to believe this is just a snippet of the highlight (Or Lowlight?) reel of her life.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the quality of the players and production on this whole recording. This is an album that could stand alone on lyrics and vocals, but it’s so much better for the quality of its layout and well-played instrumentals. I often find myself more drawn to stripped down music, but I’m very impressed with how perfect everything works together to create such a well-rounded album.
“A New Me” is a fun one to lead with; it sets the tone for the album, letting us know that this isn’t going to be just another sappy love song album. While we are treated to a couple love songs, this album is going to resonate for its eloquently written heartbreak songs. “I Think He Still Loves Me”, “Smile”, “A New Me”, and “Cigarettes and Alcohol” all have well assembled relatable lyrics and creative instrumentals. It’s albums like this that sneak up on me, reminding me just how much great music there is out there that I simply haven’t heard yet.
Douglas Palmer, IOUMusic
Extended Play Sessions
Where Jenni Dale Lord separates herself from a crowded pack is sheer attitude and confidence in her material and that comes back to the West Texas roots. She’s brash but not cocky. She can deliver the ‘cheap motel’ pulp novel score ‘Free Whiskey’ with a sweet innocence that’s almost humorous and entirely believable and then flip to an all-to-familiar relationship gone bad saga like ‘Already Gone’ with ease. Melodic songs with tight, biting lyrics delivered with power, confidence and woman-in-charge chutzpah…gotta love that!
Bill Hurley, ExtendedPlaySessions.com
Full writeup here: https://www.extendedplaysessions.com/jenni-dale-lord
Bridge The Beats Magazine
Texas Americana with a kick. That’s how I would describe the new album “Never Let Go” by the Jenni Dale Lord Band. To start with, the songwriting is superb. The lyrics are real and tangible, they spin emotions right into the music. Jenni has a razor sharp voice and a great ear for phrasing. Not only is she a great singer, she knows how to sing a song and connect with the listener. The new single “There We Were” is out now (featuring Kent Mings), it’s a hit that will get stuck in your head and have you singing along. I am partial to the title cut “Never Let Go,” that’s the one I have on repeat at the moment. The lovely lady from Lubbock delivers big time with this CD, pick it up and thank me later!
Kenny Graves, Bridge the Beats Magazine
Hub City Music
There is an element of pure country in Jenni Dale’s music, but her songwriting and performances are an amalgam of country, rock, blues, folk, and more, making her style unique and all her own… She IS going places, and fast … I was listening to her CD, and I was thinking how “Willie” has “monster hit” written all over it. It’s catchy, clever, and there’s not a wasted word or note in the whole song.
Paul Johnson, HubCityMusic.com
Jenni Dale Lord Band Free Whiskey Independent Release
One of the rewarding joys of aging is getting to watch and learn from seasons of maturity. Some of us mature slowly. We need time to hone our powers of observation, our capacities to process what we observe, and our abilities to express the outcome of those cognitive activities. Others of us seem born with that kind of maturity. They seem able to read the world — to interpret life in all its moments and facets, in all its attendant emotion, those that are dark and those that are radiant and transcendent — and to express what they read in ways that let the rest of us connect to their reading simply and beautifully. One such person born with that kind of maturity is Jenni Dale Lord.
In November of 2014, I was granted the privilege of reviewing Jenni’s previous release, Never Let Go. At that point, she was already mature beyond her years. Never Let Go was more than promising. Jenni’s voice, the singular voice comprising her authorial voice and her singing voice, was already distinctly discernible. Her writing was insightful and confident. Her singing was effectively evocative. Regardless of whether you’re inclined to think she’d found her calling, or her calling had found her, she was quite clearly where she belonged. And so it is with Free Whiskey.
As an indication of her artistic-vision-as-unifying-force, Jenni is accompanied by the same band with which she recorded Never Let Go, with one exception. The venerable Steve Lott still plays lead guitar. Andrew Mason still plays bass. But Bucky Broadus has replaced Tony Garcia behind the drums (although, Tony guests on percussion). And Free Whiskey boasts a long list of backing vocalists and guest musicians. But no one steals the show from the band. And nothing overshadows the brilliance of Jenni Dale Lord’s talent. The proof is right here:
Free Whiskey: The title track opens like a Pandora’s box of unexpected surprises, all of them intriguing and enjoyable. From the first swell of the horn section to Steve Lott’s layered guitar tracks, from Andrew Mason’s walking bass lines to Roy Agee’s trombone fills, from Bucky Broadus’ brushed snare to the rueful knowingness of Jenni’s lyrics, we’re put on notice: This disc will be estimable by any measure. Stick around.
Back There Again: Aside from the soft beauty of its melody and Jenni’s delivery, this is all you need to contemplate about this song:
But when I was seventeen And they crowned me cotton queen, Gravity was my friend. Oh, to be back there again.
I don’t know what’s more touching about that lyric — its gentle, longing whimsy or the fact that a woman so young can sing it so beautifully, with a peaceful acceptance that suggests all of life is exactly as it should be. If the combination of yearning and celebration in this song doesn’t get you, it’s time to have your tear ducts checked.
Someone to Believe: Why is it that the most subtle wallops are the most powerful? If this track weren’t a stone showcase for every one of Jenni Dale Lord’s gifts (it is), it would be a showcase for Steve Lott. I’ll refrain from spoilers about the story this song tells. But I have to say the sympathetic interplay between Jenni and Steve is magical, mystical. As many times as I’ve played the cut, I’ve never decided if I’m listening for the lyrics, for Jenni’s voice, or for Steve’s fills and lead parts. Thank God I don’t have to choose or know. Neither do you. Just cue it up and revel in the artistry.
Me and My Brother: Imagine having the audacity to put Commander Cody, Lyle Lovett, Jim Whitman, and Ogden Nash in a blender. Imagine having the talent to pull it off. Now imagine making it sound effortless, to say nothing of careening, pedal-to-the-metal fun. I’d have been skeptical that a young lady as gentle and poetic as Jenni could conjure a convincing Bonnie to her brother’s Clyde. I’d also have been wrong. And I don’t know who made the decision to let Steve Lott play his guitar with reckless raunch on this track. But it was the right decision. Buckle up.
When I Drink: A lesser person, a lesser talent, a lesser purveyor of the language would have named this aching, slow waltz “I Only Dance When I Drink”. But Jenni Dale Lord is too big a person with too much talent and too keen an appreciation of the language to telegraph and lessen the arresting irony of her own double entendre. In its every aspect, this song is wise in its self-awareness, fearless in its openness, and heartachingly beautiful.
Already Gone: More than anything else, I’d like to have been in the studio when this track was cut. I’d like to have seen the mutual admiration in the eyes of Jenni Dale Lord and Joe Ely. (Ely has to see Jenni as one of his musical progeny.) I’d like to have seen Bucky Broadus play his drums so deftly. I’d like to have seen Andrew Mason smile, knowing he could have played many more bass notes but didn’t need to. I’d like to have seen Steve Lott weave his wizardry so sympathetically. I’d like to have asked Jenni how one so young can capture the agonizing intricacy of relationships so deeply and succinctly. And I’d like to have seen the expressions on all of their faces when they realized what they’d created.
Predictable (Here It Goes): I don’t know if the absence of credit for the arrangements on this disc is an oversight or if the arrangements were a group effort requiring no particular credit. But the arrangement on this track is every bit as affecting as the sentiments expressed, as Jenni’s voice. Maybe it’s in deference to the syllabic sophistication of Jenni’s lyrics (“Please forgive my predictability/I know that that’s your least favorite quality in me”). Maybe it’s out of pure complementary musicianship. I don’t know. But the notes not played in this track — the restraint, the reflective space, the need to force nothing — makes the listening all the more engaging and the emotional pull all the more touching.
I Need a Broken Heart: What? When I read the title of this track, I opened the lyrics I received with the disc and read them before I played the track. I had to know: Who needs a broken heart? Why? I found part of the answer in the punch line: “But darlin’ don’t be gone too long/I just need time to write one song.” But I still wasn’t prepared for what I heard. The horn section is in your face, accentuated with hand claps. The rhythm is Calypso-meets-New Orleans. And Jenni, with her tongue firmly in her cheek, is ready to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous loneliness to get her Muse back. Nice twist.
Country Rock and Roll: Today’s Pop Quiz is brought to you by the Jenni Dale Lord Band. Here we go:
Who had the biggest smile:
- Jenni when she cleverly riffed off of lyrics from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones?
- Steve Lott when he swapped lead lines and then harmonized with Kyle Aaron’s fiddle?
- Andrew Mason and Bucky Broadus when they created a pocket deep enough to hold a Texas-sized bankroll?
- Me, when I realized I’d been sitting with a huge grin plastered across my mug for three minutes and 52 seconds without even blinking?
- All of the above.
And the answer is: Who the hell cares? Any time you can have this much fun doing anything, don’t question it. Just do it. Then, if you can get away with it, do it again.
Find the Words: The instrumentation here recalls the work Sir George Martin did with the Beatles, particularly the strings he used in “Yesterday” (against Paul McCartney’s wishes) and “Eleanor Rigby”. Since the disc is dedicated to Jenni Dale Lord’s dad, who passed away on December 19, 2015, I presume this track was written for him. It’s a beautiful evocation of the struggle to process grief, loss, and finality: “Find the words/To say I’ll never love a better man/Find the words/To tell my heart be brave/You’re off in some better place/Than here on Earth/That’s what I’ve heard/But I just can’t find the words.” Starting with Jenni’s strummed chords on an acoustic guitar, over which Steve Lott plays a melodic, electric, overdriven lead line, violins and cellos find their way in on the first chorus. Their sadness is palpable. And as Steve’s final solo fades away, the strings punctuate the last 30 seconds of the track emphatically and dramatically before holding an abruptly final bowed note. You can feel the pain of their passing.
Trust: The first time I drove over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, I imagined being the guy in whatever meeting who said for the first time, “Hey! You know what we can do?” When I heard Steve Lott’s furiously overdriven guitars opening this track, I imagined Steve saying something quite similar: “Hey, Jenni! You know what we can do?” The guitars don’t have to bridge a body of water, but they do have to segue into a very poignant reflection on betrayal and resolve. And they descend masterfully into roiling rhythm riffs that rendezvous with the bass and drums solidly behind Jenni Dale Lord’s impassioned vocals: “There’s nothing left for us to say/’Cause I don’t trust you with my heart.” This track is a musical and emotional match, note for note and word for word.
Where Are You Now: This track plays like a long, languid anguish. Jenni Dale Lord’s voice smolders with a longing passion that will no longer be requited: “It was a cold, cold December/But the heat our bodies made/Could’ve burnt down the house/Where are you now?” The anger hinted at by the syncopated rhythm chirp with which Steve Lott opens the cut is unleashed in his scorching solo, made ethereal by playing it through reverb and delay. After the second verse, Andrew Mason shows the adroitness of his own talent, adding melodic lines that play as a counter-narrative to Jenni’s plaintive lyrics, managing to be at once attention-grabbing and subtle. And this track may be the measure of Bucky Broadus’s own artistry: It wasn’t until the third listen that I noticed what he was doing with his bass drum. Alternating single and double kicks — with faint, syncopated taps on his snare drum that echo Steve Lott’s opening chords — he holds the time like an anchor. And when it’s time to pick it up, his snare is like a slightly muffled rifle shot, with a spare sprinkling of cymbal over the top. No clutter. Nothing unnecessary. All class and controlled finesse. It takes a while to get over the throbbing in your chest after this cut.
Being Me: The final track on the disc strikes an unorthodox and uncanny balance of melancholy and self-satisfaction, of self-defeat and comfort in one’s skin: “Tomorrow I’ll face the cold truth once again/When I wake alone while she’s kissing your chin/And I’ll turn to your pillow, confused, but I’ll grin/From a lifetime of being me.” The music plays like a Tyrolean waltz, with Steve Lott’s acoustic guitar dancing lyrical figures around Wade McNutt’s accordion. And the lasting effect is one of wonder: Even at the end of another ruthless self- examination, Jenni Dale Lord emerges whole, strong, triumphant.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say I’ve been a fan and reviewer of Steve Lott’s work for more than 20 years. It pleases me immensely to hear, to know, Jenni Dale Lord has inspired Steve’s best work to date. I don’t know for whom I should be happier — Steve for finding Jenni or Jenni for finding Steve. But I do know their finding each other cannot be an accident. Musical relationships like this are gifts of the spirit. Talents like these are gifts of the spirit. And the paths of these two spirits were intended to cross. We’re beneficiaries of the fact that they recognized the gifts when they were given them. And for that, we should be as honored as we are grateful for their sharing those gifts.
Since Free Whiskey is the work of the band that bears Jenni Dale Lord’s name, and since she wrote every song on the disc, I tip my hat to Jenni for finding the work of her heart, for sharing that work so generously, for honing her talent so diligently, and for having the courage to do all three. I can’t be sure where she goes from here. No one can be sure. We can only be sure it will be up.
In my review of Never Let Go, I wrote this: “The disc that follows this one is breathtaking to imagine.” I’ll gladly suffer accusations of immodesty to say I’ve never been happier to be correct. And I’m humbled to bear witness to this season of Jenni Dale Lord’s maturity.
Jenni Dale Lord Band Never Let Go Independent Release
“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn.” (Eliot, T.S., The Sacred Wood)
By T.S. Eliot’s definition, Jenni Dale Lord is a poet both mature and good. She’s young. But she’s mature enough to have solution well and artfully as evidenced by an assortment of recognizable shards throughout this disc. And she’s good enough to have turned those shards from random splinters into songs very much different from their sources. After all, it’s long-since established: “There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
By any definition, Jenni Dale Lord also is canny enough to have assembled one crack unit to constitute her band. Steve Lott, lead guitarist, is a veteran of the road and his own 20-year international recording career. Andrew Mason is a young bassist who plays with the accomplished understated grace of an old pro. And drummer, Tony Garcia, has an infallible feel for the pocket and just enough flair to be perfect. As for the material, that speaks for itself.
Crazy: With a classic country, alternating I-V bass line underlying this up-tempo tune, Jenni Dale plays with our expectations by using minor thirds in the melody. Those somber notes make us mindful of the fact that all that’s crazy isn’t necessarily happy or positive. Steve Lott plays his leads and fills through a Leslie rotating -speaker cabinet, which only adds to the deliberate emotional disorientation. This track comprises a very strong start.
Let You In: Steve Lott’s very electric guitar opens this track and juxtaposes intriguingly against Jenni Dale’s vocal in what turns out to be a pleading love song to a reluctant lover. Any points Jenni Dale might lose for aspirating her glissandos (“I don’t want to let you go-ho”), a habit of many young singers, she earns back with a very strong arrangement. Kudos to her, Scott Faris, and the band.
Never Let Go: There’s an almost martial quality to the combination of Jenni Dale’s jangly rhythm guitar and Tony Garcia’s drumming at the outset of this track. Jenni Dale’s lyrics and her sultry vocal delivery belie the youth she made apparent on the previous track: “There’s no denying I’m not perfect/There’s no pretending that I’ll ever be/But I think you’ll find me worth it/Yeah, I’ve got what you need/Don’t ever let go.” The entry of Steve Lott’s slide guitar at the conclusion of that first verse recalls the entry of the Hammond B-3 at 1:16 in “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”. It’s as if three things happen simultaneously: You see the sun. You feel its warmth. And you hear exactly what you need to hear in that moment. The effect is glorious and goose-bump-inducing. This has hit written all over it.
Look at Me Now: If you think it’s easy to play a slow song in 3⁄4 time (waltz time), try it. If you think it’s easy to write a song this subtly and ironically powerful about longing, loneliness, and the emptiness of the spotlight, try it. If you want to hear both of those things pulled off with effortless grace and artistic maturity, try this one. Jenni Dale Lord probably got her Performing Artist Badge just for making this disc. She earns her Artist Badge for writing this song and singing it with such heartbreaking beauty. I never imagined the phrase, “look at me now,” could be a lament. It is now. Amazing.
Maurning Haze: To adopt the notion from T.S. Eliot with which this review begins, Jenni Dale Lord stole the chord progression for this song from Bob Dylan. To give you an idea of how absurd that notion is, suggesting Jenni Dale stole it from Bob Dylan also suggests no one ever used this song’s descending I- VII-VI chord structure before Bob Dylan used it in “All Along the Watchtower.” Baloney. What Jenni Dale’s done here is to take a familiar chord structure (have you ever compared the chord structures in “Sympathy for the Devil,”“Can’t You See,” and “Sweet Home Alabama?”) and make it her own in an affecting reverie of unrequited love. Along the way, we get to enjoy Steve Lott’s channeling his inner Jimi. Who could blame him?
Brick: This could have been an otherwise unremarkable sort of country-rock tune, except … the title contrasts ironically with the repeated chorus, “Please don’t break my heart again.” Steve Lott’s various multi-textured guitar tracks incite extended listening curiosity — his double-stop fills under some vocal lines, his playing in unison with other vocal lines, his repeated lyrical figures in the lead breaks, and what feels like his underlying musical intelligence throughout, seeking and always finding just the right touch at just the right moment. We may have hit #2 on our hands here, kids.
The Music, Man: You might not know you’ve been waiting for this track until it starts. It’s an unabashed rocker that feels like it’s been coming for a while. In it, Jenni Dale Lord’s narrative voice is that of the music: “You take me home/Take me to bed/And when the morning comes/I’m inside your head/I’m the music, man”. Brilliant. And she’d have been forgiven if she’d indulged in high-register histrionics to make her point. Not a chance. She’s too mature a poet for that. Instead, she relies on subtlety, all the better to make us listen. Hats off, again, to the experience reflected in Steve Lott’s guitar parts.
September: And you might not know until you get to this track that the last one was a set-up, since it takes us from hard rock to heartache. This song is just exquisite. Jenni Dale Lord’s vocal somehow manages to combine stoicism with hope and loss, knowing her lover’s as good as gone but holding out for that one last, fleeting chance … Steve Lott’s guitar and the slide he plays on his dobro are the perfect complements to Jenni Dale’s singing. What a gorgeous, devastating piece of music. It’s hit #3, if anyone’s paying attention.
In This Town: Tony Garcia might have settled for gentle rim shots on this track. He didn’t. As a result, you get the sense he and Andrew Mason must have had fun laying down the rhythm for this song. Steve Lott’s playing speaks for itself, as always. As for Jenni Dale, she’s written a wonderfully introspective paean to her hometown here. It’s another instance in which she’s taken a much-covered topic and imbued it with, in Eliot’s words, a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn.” One has the sense of witnessing Jenni Dale’s growing up, her artistic coming of age, even as this disc was being recorded. It’s a joyous and humbling privilege.
True Love: As if to prove my last comment right, Jenni Dale wrote a love song to her guitar. It’s tempting to think of all the ways in which such a thing could have been trite or sophomoric. It’s not. On the contrary, it’s a moving evocation of Jenni Dale’s suffering a temporary inability to write a new song that would satisfy her artistic integrity: “I couldn’t dare touch my guitar. I couldn’t hold her in my hands/I couldn’t pick her little strings; although, she didn’t understand/’Cause I can feel her disappointment, even now as I play/I just hope that she forgives me for every lonely day.” Steve Lott’s own singing, crying guitar here manifests his knowing sympathy for Jenni Dale’s sentiments. Tony Garcia adds congas, a perfect touch, to the percussive mix. And Andrew Mason’s gentle bass conveys just the right sense of informed compassion.
There We Were: Country meets rollicking, barrelhouse blues in this blissful surrender to inevitability. Alternating verses with Lubbock’s own Kent Mings, Jenni Dale sings a song of two lovers who habitually break up, only to find themselves running into each other (there we were) and deciding to give it another go. I hope Kent Mings had as much fun as the band did recording this track because the band clearly had a blast. So did I.
The Other Side: From the instrumentation, you might expect to hear this track on almost any country station. Everything about its sound and structure is perfect for that kind of radio play. But you might not expect to hear this kind of accomplished wordplay, especially from one as young as Jenni Dale Lord: “But, Baby, if you ever left me/I don’t think that I’d survive/I swear I’d drown in my own teardrops/And I’d still be crying on the other side.” In complete candor, I’m not a fan of country music. But I’m a fan of this song, as well as the talent and the intelligence it manifests.
I Always Did: On this closing track, Jenni Dale wears the broken heart of her lyrics on the beautifully expressive piano played by Amy Faris. It’s a courageous choice. Most people, I’d imagine — or at least those people fueled by testosterone and ego — would have wanted to wrap this triumphant disc with power and swagger. But Jenni Dale opts for a more delicate strength, a more feminine step her pain redeemed by grace and self-possession. God, this is impressive.
In a collection of essays called Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, published in 1960, the year he lost his life in a car crash, Albert Camus wrote this: “To create today is to create dangerously. Any publication is an act, and that act exposes one to the passions of an age that forgives nothing.” I don’t believe Jenni Dale Lord knows that. She may never have heard of Camus. But she nevertheless has taken on the mantle of creating dangerously.
It’s impossible to say what’s most remarkable about this young lady: The fearlessness with which she exposes her vulnerability? The insight and maturity reflected in her lyrics? The egoless generosity exhibited by her willingness to let her bandmates contribute to her remarkable songs? The old soul concealed within such lovely youth? Her innate tendency to eschew the trivial and the mundane?
I’m sure I don’t know. But I do know Jenni Dale Lord, the Jenni Dale Lord Band, and Never Let Go deserve our acclaim. Given the time Jenni Dale and the band will spend playing these songs, getting to know and intuit each other as musicians, refining their style, and tightening their interaction, the disc that follows this one is breathtaking to imagine.
I’m getting in line for it right now.
Jenni Dale Lord (self-title) Independent Release
The first thing that is really striking to me about this album is the voice that is featured on it. Jenni’s voice is that of a strong woman and even though she is often singing sweetly, it doesn’t play like what you might call a “girl song”. That is, I’m sad to say, a rare thing to hear these days. She sounds powerful. This kind of performance is unique and there is no “girl song” feel undermining the album. This is a straight songwriting album, as far as I can tell. The lyrics are fun and well put together. They flow nicely and make for easy and positively charged listening. As the hippies might say, this record has “good vibes”.
The overall production values are high across the board. I don’t know what prices are like at Crossroads Recording Studio in Lubbock, Texas but this shit sounds expensive. Tones are warm and close. The guitars are impressively played and carry most of the groove of these tunes. There are a few examples of “Holy Fucking Shit” electric guitar solos on here as well. In the mastering seat on this album is local legend Alan Crossland and his collected years as a tone smith are on display here as well. Nothing is lost or jumbled or bleeding into the tonal territory of another instrument. I love this kind of mixing because it’s easy to hear individual instruments and follow their parts.
I think Jenni deserves an album this good. She has content worth producing and sharing. I’m glad she’s in the game. As far as standout tracks are concerned, there are several worth mentioning in more detail. The first one I really stopped and played again was “Lover, Don’t Leave” it stands apart musically from the rest of the tunes with minor tonality and a sort of Santana type guitar attack. It’s a really strong tune about doin’ it. I was actually surprised by the level of sexual content in it. It’s very sensual and flirts with crossing the line into the graphic. It’s excellently written and finds the balance between sweet and dirty. The phrase “I’ll make you cum more” is one that calls for applause around my house. Clever and sexy is always a winning mix.
Another especially strong tune on Jenni’s self-titled record is “Willie” which is a total classic in the making. It’s one of those that could, I imagine, be picked up by some Nashville debutant show pony and provide Jenni a well deserved pay day. Jenni comes off as “Miss Bad Ass” sitting comfortably in some grime slicked Texas draft house. Strong tune. It sounds authentic and unforced because she’s a good Texas girl at heart.
Another song I want to mention from this record is the first one on the disc. It’s called “A New Me” and it’s a pretty basic country tune recorded and composed with a wink to pristine classic country. It sounds like it’s a cover of some older song from the golden age of this music but it’s a fresh original from a strong songwriter who knows what pieces need to come together to create a well balanced song like this one.
Over all I’d say that this album is an insta-purchase for anyone who loves music from West Texas. The flavors of the area are captured well and mixed with a level of creativity and respect for the genre that is rare and lovely. I would probably classify this as “West Texas Soul” which is music that simply couldn’t come from somewhere else and carries the stain of the flatlands on it. For enthusiasts of Lubbock music history I think this is an album to take note of. I hope you will pick it up and visit the site as well.
-Andy Eppler, Prairiescholars.com