The beauty of the Internet is that in terms of exposure, it creates a level playing field for established artists and newcomers alike. I was perusing MySpace back in 2005 when I came across a voice and song that took my breath away. It was the newly-released debut record from Janeen Leah.
Janeen's record was comprised of a dozen or so songs that were not cookie cutter little shapes baked from the same batch. Each little morsel had its own special flavor and many highlights were found within.
Balancing work and a personal life is always a challenge and Janeen has spent the last eight years raising a young family. The good news for her fan base is that she has a new record out, the six-song EP Right In Front of Me.
Janeen has two main weapons in her arsenal. The first is her very compelling voice which is like melted caramel and chocolate. She doesn't just reach the notes, she bathes them in a gooey richness. Janeen has the ability to draw you closer to the speakers so you really concentrate on her words. In addition, she can also exude a sultry vocal coating that enables you to get lost in the moment.
The second weapon is her strong songs. Not one to just put out something for the sake of filling a mandate, her songs leave an impression that she carefully gave her all to each track.
This EP continues in the fashion of her debut. All of the six songs have their own little corner of the record and stand out from one another. The opening track "Like a Fool" has a casual gait that is easy on the ears and ushers you gently into the record.
"Fly" is a breezy song that is punctuated by a charming falsetto that Janeen throws into songs occasionally. The next two tracks are no stranger to anyone who follows Janeen on Facebook as she unveiled them at least a year ago. The first track is "Life Eternal" which is one of the two strongest songs. This song is like a cousin to "Fallen", the fantastic song from Janeen's debut. Powered by some crunchy guitars on the chorus and snake-charmer rhythm for the verses (think Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet"), the music almost seems at odds with the lyrics.
The dreamy "Rainy Day" starts off with a sweet Janeen vocal and an irresistible melody. Like a lot of rainy days, there is a bit of thunder involved and surprisingly there is a brief raucous moment that turns it from a good song into a really interesting one. Next up is the folky "Show Me the Door", which is a perfect campfire song with its relaxed atmosphere.
The biggest surprise is the final song, the dance-y "Let This Love Die" with a bouncy melody augmented by some energetic guitars. Your foot starts tapping from the first note and the rest of your body follows suit when the catchy chorus hits. This is definitely my favorite track on the record.
Right in Front of Me is a welcome return for Janeen and hopefully we don't have to wait another eight years for the next one.