New Music – Green Tree 2018
Picking up the threads, original heartbreaker and piano wizard deliver raw reminiscences from their golden era.
Recent star of “Britain’s Got Talent” and subsequent social media sensation, Jenny Darren’s talent hasn’t been a secret for those who remember the LP she released between 1977 and 1980, and there’s no surprise in the singer’s desire to refuse to rest up and dedicate retirement to restoring her career. To this end, Jenny’s arranged a series of ingenious moves, first issuing the “Ladykillers” album in 2017 and following it up with a collection of songs co-written and committed to tape, around the time those old platters were laid down, with Robert Webb, an erstwhile member of Darren’s ensemble and, before that, of MERLIN and ENGLAND. Never destined to share a single vinyl space, the cuts which ended up here create a surprisingly solid context, where the infectiously funky “Ode To Billie Joe” – the only cover on display – is linked to the pair’s own dramatic “Where Did Billy Go?” and the vibrant, vaudeville-like “You Could Have Been Rich” seems to predict Darren’s destiny.
More so, there’s a raw nerve to many a number, because they weren’t fully finished for inclusion on an LP, but when future IRON MAIDEN drummer Nicko McBrain locks in with the STRAWBS bassist Chas Cronk, an almost bare rhythm fuels the slightly underdeveloped arrangements with sincerity, although “Fifties Teen” would fail if a slide guitar didn’t sting the song’s otherwise outdated, dancefloor-oriented sound. Full of Cold War dread, the folk-tinctured “This Is The Big One” may be the only track betraying these recordings’ era, but the pure emotionality of Jenny’s vocals will make the questions posed in lyrics burn brightly, while “He’s Going Home” has warm worry written all over the piece’s playful veneer. Set in motion with “White Chariot” whose rockabilly twang and cosmic buzz serve as a bouncy background for Jenny’s bluesy wail, “Rare Bird” is for the most part as gracious as it is deliciously dirty – in a good way – yet the ebb and flow of Webb’s piano on “Oceans Away” bathe her voice in a different, delicate light, fading away before the ballad could develop into something needlessly epic.
“No regrets that I’ve been who I am,” states Jenny in “Running With Tony” and her panache on this punchy composition is irresistible, whereas Robert’s synthesizers spike “I Can’t Look Up For Looking Down” with a hit potential that, hopefully, can still be realized one day soon. Given Darren and Webb’s current activity, it’s a palpable possibility.