Jenn Adams,
In the Pool
(White Boxer, 2000)

I've spent hours listening to this disc, and each time I find something new and exciting. Jenn is a very gifted artist -- both with vocal ability and musical talent. She reminds me of some of the greater female artists over the years, although the one which seems to surface the most in my mind is Joni Mitchell. The lyrics are earthy and combined with almost pop-sounding vocals. There is a vast mix here which Jenn stirs: Joplin, Jewel, Bonnie Raitt, Chantal Kreviazuk, Arden and Vega, to name a few. This disc is like a fine glass of wine on a warm summer evening. It is relaxing and should be fully enjoyed.

Jenn's guitar style really stands out. She combines all aspects of her musical upraising -- from folk to jazz. Jenn doesn't use picks, she uses her fingers -- "giving a warmer, softer tone" -- and one I find to be a bit deeper, more meaningful in its sound. It is obvious she has a deep and abiding love for music, it carries across to the listener in every note, every nuance. This is great music!

In the Pool is Jenn's second release (the first was Water) and "blends folk with elements of jazz, pop, country and blues together in primarily acoustic setting." She has an impressive list of folks joining her on this Nashville recorded project: Steve Conn, Greg Morrow, George Marinelli, Suzi Ragsdale, Byron House, Rod McGaha, Kirk "Jelly Roll" Johnson and Kenny Malone.

The album opens with an upbeat track with a bit of a pop feel to it called "Joliet." According to the press release, this track was "inspired by a black woman who was friends with four generations of Jenn's family." It is a wonderful song which takes in life and friendship/relationships, as well as slavery, without being depressing. Jenn's guitar work is light and sunny, and her vocals on this track really remind me of Jan Arden.

The past is looked at once more in "1846" as Jenn sings about the opening of the West by the brave and adventurous men, and the travels of an only daughter. It is a wonderful jazzy number that shows off another aspect of Jenn's phenomenally adaptive and versatile vocals. Also worked in are some of the native beliefs, such as a coyote dance and the reflecting eyes across a fire. It is a brief but intricate song, one which allows you to appreciate just being alive!

This incredible disc comes to a close with a gritty and moving cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," which reached the heights of fame with help from the late Jimi Hendrix. To be honest, I prefer Jenn's rendition. This one reaches deeper and really gets across the message that life is short and should be enjoyed, and Jenn's music is the perfect vehicle for it! Joined by Geffen recording artist Malcolm Holcombe, this song is turned into a very soulful duet. The vocals are so dynamic you just can't ignore them. I'd have to say this is probably my favourite track on the disc. It puts a new twist on an old song, and makes it fresh in the process.

If you get the chance to see this incredible lady live, please do so. She is one of the most versatile and creative performers I have heard in a long while, and has a great deal to offer all audiences! Otherwise, get the disc, you won't be disappointed with it!

[ by Naomi de Bruyn ]
Rambles: 14 July 2001

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