I have conflicting thoughts about this record. As a soundtrack it works tremendously well. As a stand-alone record, not quite as much. Taken on a song-by-song basis, there are a few very good moments and one excellent one. I guess what my problem is that it's not what I was expecting as a follow-up to her previous record. Of course, that's always the risk you take when you follow an artist that is not driven by external expectations.
Jeannette was not comfortable churning out a repeat of past material so she didn't and as such she should be applauded. As always, I'm impressed by her abilities. Jeanette wrote everything except for two songs (one was co-written and the other was a cover), played everything, produced and arranged the records. I am especially enamored with her guitar playing abilities, going from a garage-rock jangle like in the upbeat "Bullets Ain't Brakes" to her Tarantino-flavored spaghetti western guitar in a lot of the other songs.
As mentioned, there are several high points on this record. It feels weird to point out the only song she didn't write, her excellent cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" as the first one. However, her superior arranging capabilities transform the song into a thing of beauty so it reflects on her as well. Eschewing the percussive underpinnings of the original, Jeannette employs some astral keyboards giving it a Space Oddity vibe that really connects with my ears.
It seems I relate closer to the more tranquil moments on this record because one of my other favorite songs is "I'll Be Had if You Have Me". There is a bitter-sweet vibe that sounds like a moment of reflection during an autumn walk for this song. "Rosaline" is of the same tempo as "I'll be Had…" but is a bit more dreamy music-wise, recalling "Have You Ever Done It Before" a little bit from her exceptional debut record Pink Mischief.
The other tracks have their own personality yet don't resonate with me in the same way the above-mentioned tracks do. But despite my personal thoughts about this record, Jeannette deserves applause for stretching the boundaries of her work station.
I got much more excited about her follow-up collection of songs. It was released as a package for her fans last summer, entitled A Summer EP. To my way of thinking, this is the kind of ground where I'd love to see Jeannette really sticking her shovel into.
It contains four songs and all of them are terrific, each with a different vibe but all emanating a strong summer flavor. "The Quiet Ones" sounds like Jeannette's work as The Chubbies, an indie favorite that rocked colleges from coast to coast during the mid to late '90s. A short, choppy guitar line leads the way and within a second Jeannette's vocal captures your imagination. One of the best features about Jeannette's music is her sultry singing and without a doubt it is sexy as hell. She's definitely at her alluring best in this song.
"Flynn's Song (Stay Right Here)" is just gorgeous with excellent playing/arranging. The keys mix well with the raw guitar lines that just stretch slowly, bending from note to note. Excellent background vocal mix on this one too.
"I Wasn't Lookin' For Trouble" is an absolute joy. It sounds like it would fit in perfectly on Prince's Diamond and Pearls record and considering the purple one is a fav of Jeanette's, it makes sense a little influence has filtered in there. Jeannette shows that she is so terrific at so many instruments with some fat keys notes that really carry the song and some restrained jazzy drumming.
"Like Cellophane" has an almost reggae guitar line and the chorus is supremely catchy. They keys are again king in this song with string lines that really curtain things nicely and the organ notes fill out the sounds perfectly.
Two albums. One works better than the other. However both prove one thing; that this girl is damn talented and more interesting than most of the other also-rans out there today.
Josephine the Outlaw King: 3 stars
The Summer EP: 4½ stars
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A Brokeheart Pro - Josephine the Outlaw King and The Summer EP
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