Jen Spool,
Soul Threads
(Wildplum, 2006)

Jen Spool is a young singer/songwriter/guitarist from Oakland, Calif. Her album Soul Threads has 12 original songs. Jen's brand of folk music is sprinkled with a little bit of rock, but not enough to dissuade listeners of folk from giving her a listen. Jen's vocals are a little on the high side at times, but as a general rule, she has a nice vocal range.

"The Cup" is a very notable track and perhaps my favorite on this CD. It's a love song, short and simple. The lyrics start out "Take my hand. Believe my word. Cause here I stand. I'm not going to fly off like a bird. I said I loved you. And I didn't lie. That love is forever. It knows no time." A male vocal chant occasionally in the background adds an air of mystique to the song. It is a very pretty piece.

"How Love Goes" reminds me of Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs fame. The beat is just perfect for that little bounce and hair flip I associate with Natalie and that type of music. In the song, Jen sings about time going by so fast and she doesn't really know how love goes. The track is a little too short, though, and ends prematurely.

Track 9, "Sweet Surrender," reminds me of Dar Williams. On occasion, Jen's vocals are very reminiscent of Dar's. And I could even say the music is very "Darish." In the promotional material, Jen uses this song to "remind us that we are all stardust; If we open our hearts, fill them with love and forgiveness, we can ride out this wave of deception." This song is much more subdued than the more happy sounding "How Love Goes."

Jen can be credited with writing all the songs she sings, as well as playing acoustic guitar. She still had the help of several musicians during the recording of Soul Threads. Mark Abbott plays the trap drum set. Caren Armstrong strums the acoustic guitar. Ado Castro is on fretless and electro/acoustic basses. Tom Chandler handles electric guitar, steel and nylon string acoustic guitars. Harry Goelet tickles the ivory. Tom Huebner is on electric guitar. Richard Linley is busy with acoustic guitar, ocarina, percussion and background vocals. Mark Nemoyten blows flugelhorn. Elihu Sills plays flute, acoustic and electric basses. Lila Sklar is on violin, Al Vasquez handles the percussion kit and QB Williams is on percussion and backing vocals.

Jen gets a little political on a couple of tracks and some folks might find that a turn-off. Other than that, I do not hear anything to complain about with her CD. I like the music. Her vocals are pleasant. I can easily recommend checking out this CD if you are a fan of folk music similar to what you might have heard from Dar or Natalie back in the early 1990s.

review by
Wil Owen

15 March 2008

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