Jarnagin Music 2014
Bursting into true color, classically trained piano player reveals her captivating voice.
This Canadian Okie’s third album can’t be more surprising for those who knows JJ from her previous records – instrumental works with a new-age vibe: having thrown inhibitions out the window, on “Bullseye” the young artist emerges as a top-notch songwriter and singer of a sultry, even feisty, nature. As a result, the passion that’s here surpasses any notion of a chamber performance, Hammond (not played by her, although she’s an endorsee now) adding a happy purr and roar to many a piece on offer, most of them – first of all the effervescently vaudevillian single “Big Broken Heart” – nigh on infectious in melody and mood.
There is a slow-motion solemnity in the piano and organ weave of the title track, yet its gradual uplift opens a bright vista whence no turning back. Still, orchestral wave just brings the listener to the shore of jolly where reggae is caressed with lap steel for “There’s My Baby” and its “mesmerized idiot” self-reference, thus contrasting “Fence Line” that gets down to a folk-tinged waltz. That’s a sweet melancholy, though, and, when it seeps into country, “Okie Girl” shapes the artist’s biography softly, while “I Was Born” rides a rock riff into the bluegrass-smelling sunrise. But if the cover of Judee Sill’s “Soldier Of The Heart” is wrapped into a taut, playful funk, the enchanting intimacy in “Over The Edge” is bent into blues before taking off, fleshed out in guitars and a gospel backing.
Back to Steinway, the Chopinesque grace of “Dealing With The Devil” has a strings-drenched pop edge to it, one that should send JJ up the charts – she has the chops and the charm of a genuine star. That’s the bullseye she’s aimed at and is poised to hit.