Monday, January 14, 2013

Vinyl Review - Jenn Grant - The Beautiful Wild

When I was ordering the new Whitehorse LP from Six Shooter Records I was happy to see Jenn Grant on the roster as well. Her new album The Beautiful Wild made a few of the top 5 lists on Maritime Vinyl last month so I was anxious to see what the fuss was all about.

The packaging has a lot of similarities to the Whitehorse LP. It was protected with the 3 mil poly sleeve rather than shrink wrap and the cover was made of the same coarse non-gloss cardboard. Something about this coarse cardboard that just works with me. I love it.
The same attractive style download card was included. I like the “postcard” approach as it is just so much more collectible than the regular dull looking matchbox download cards. Let’s face it; most vinyl collectors like me will agree that being “collectable” is everything.
One big difference on this album over the Whitehorse was the nice gatefold cover. However; it was lacking any inserts so it was basically a wash. This album is lacking the lyric insert as well but at least she has all the lyrics posted on her website
I am really starting to become a fan of this Six Shooter Records label. Two records in and I am nothing but happy with both. I am glad to see that they are pressing their new releases on vinyl and that they are really taking pride in the packaging. If they keep this up they will be a huge contender in the vinyl market.
This album was pressed on the same shiny heavy 180 gram black vinyl that we all love so much. I am glad Six Shooter is living up to this standard as I love the look and feel of these heavy platters!
This album has that low volume that I was talking about with the Whitehorse LP. Again it gives it plenty of room to breathe which is great. I love lots of dynamics in recordings. The mixing and producing is great on this album.
The music:
Third release for Halifax favorite Jenn Grant. It took me a little while to get hooked on this album but it is really starting to grow on me. I think it was just the fact that I was coming from some more upbeat music prior and I wasn’t in the mindset for a mellower album.
It has actually grown on me quite nicely and I find myself playing it often. Headphone listening seems to be even better than through the speakers if that even makes sense. There are so many different instruments tucked into the background that just stands out so well with the headphones.
Jenn keeps the mellow approach throughout the majority of the album but doesn’t mind mixing it up a bit as well. A good example of this is in the song called Gone Baby Gone. I disliked this song at first listen but find myself returning to it more than any other. Just something about it kept me interested and made me feel like I missed something the first time around. It is just so experimental compared to the others with a sitar as the primary instrument, tribal type hand clapping with simple drums and Jenn chanting the same two lines throughout. This weird little number somehow turned into my favourite track. It was a great ending to side A.
Then when flip this album over and she is right back with another strong number called White Dove. The hand clapping technique usually doesn’t work well for me but she pulled it off again on this number. White Dove mixes up the style with a small simple horn section and backup singers similar to the style of the Raelettes. The fast drum style with the uses of brushes rather than sticks gives it a unique rhythm that really makes it stand out nicely.
Only downside on this album to me was the closing number, a slow drowsy version of Survivors – Eye of the Tiger. Sure the song gets me pumped when Rocky is beating the hell out of Mr. T but this soft drowsy version just didn’t fit in here. Eleven great songs and it ended with this garbage. What a shame.
I definitely see how she made the top 5 lists at the end of the year and am a little disappointed that it took me this long to find this album. I’m especially happy that I did not give up on it after the first listen. Some albums like this just need a few extra spins before I make an opinion. I’m sure going to be watching Jenn Grant closely and anxiously await her next release.

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