music review: Jen Wood

JEN_COVER_WILDERNESS

A woman and a piano making beautiful music. A simple concept but not a simple output. Jen Wood brings fervent lyrics and stylish arrangements to her songs. She reminds me a lot of Emma Townshend [The Who’s Pete Townshend’s daughter] who put out an album in the late 90s.

This is the first release since 2010’s Finds You in Love. To mix up arrangements and modernize her sound, the Seattle-based musician blended in Gameboy/Chiptune melodies composed by musician Andy Myers (Stenobot, Supercommuter). In addition for the percussion arrangements, Wood worked with drummer Alex Westcoat (Pickwick, Dave Bazan).

“On this album, I’m playing everything on piano as the lead instrument. Not guitar,” Wood stated. “I’ve been a guitar player for over twenty years and had barely any experience writing actual songs on piano. I didn’t plan on writing a piano record, it just happened. I bought an old 1930s piano and had a special connection with it. The minute I started playing that piano, the songs just poured out of me. I couldn’t stop writing.”

Wood possesses a gorgeous voice and magnificent range. Not Mariah Carey—various octaves at once range– but emotive, captivating range. There’s the catchy enthralling opening track “Fell in Love.” Whispery vocals and a choral vibe fill the expansive “Where the Real Love Is.” Piano and cool percussion add to the splendor of “Run to Me” which starts slower and bursts forth at times. Very effective. Electronica elements and gentle precious vocals propel “Mind Wars (Red Shoes),” a song reflecting on conflict and peace. “No Way Out” opens with an intriguing blitzy melody and then Wood sings robust lyrics—“I won’t look you in the eye/because I don’t know if you’ll smile or if you’ll bite.” Wilderness is a wonderfully dense, emotive and enchanting album.

Wilderness [Radar Light, New Granada]
release date: October 14, 2014

order at Amazon: Wilderness

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