Jenifer Jackson will play a fine acoustic concert on Saturday, February
6th, 2016, at 7:00 PM.
As you may already know, Jenifer Jackson has been writing quietly brilliant, eclectic songs for a long time. Maybe you discovered her, as I fortuituously did, around the time of her paradigm-shifting bossa/Beatlesque/psychedelic pop album Slowly Bright a few years back. Since then, she's explored country music, jazz, classic soul music and even garage rock, coloring those songs with her inimitably crystalline lyrics and that amazing voice. This new album, The Day That Happiness Found Me, I believe, is her best. It's her most intimate, and, maybe ironically, her deepest. We tend to associate depth with sadness, if only because that's what most people learn from. I think Jenifer is ahead of the curve because she goes so soulfully into the good times as well! The way she keeps you in suspense and then finally goes up and nails the crescendo of the Philly soul ballad Baby Did You Think That Love Would Find a Way; the hope that curves ever so distantly, yet memorably, around her phrasing in the folk-pop gem In Spring; and my favorite track here, Maybe, an existentialist rock masterpiece: she grabs the chorus and breaks free on so many levels that it's not possible to list them here.
The arrangements are spare and intimate as well, like a Jenifer Jackson concert in your living room. Her own imaginative guitar and keyboard work is complemented by the gorgeously melodic guitar and keys of Chris McQueen and Chris Jones on bass, with Hem's Jason Mercer adding his own signature four-string excellence on What Makes Love Stay - the great country hit that could give Miranda Lambert some real cred - and the quietly triumphant closing cut, The Beauty in the Emptying. That one's about cleaning out the clutter during a move from one town to another, just one example of how Jenifer can create real poetry out of a seemingly mundane task. I've been fortunate to able to see her play several times, although not as many as I would have liked. If you get the chance, I encourage you to do the same; in the meantime, this album will draw you in, reassure you and keep you reaching for the repeat button.- Alan Young, Lucid Culture, NYC, June 2011
Ever since the 90s, I've been putting together an annual list of the year's best albums. Trying to rank them is completely subjective and a little ridiculous, but whenever I question the wisdom of this absurdly herculean task, an album like this one comes along and reminds me why I make the effort.
You might think that after ten albums, a film score and a handful of tracks scattered across the internet, Jenifer Jackson would have settled on one particular style. But that would be too easy. She likes to reinvent herself, so, the cd you are holding right now, her eleventh, is where she goes deeper than ever into the Americana roots she loves so much. Jenifer has always had a thing for vintage country sounds - for example, you may remember Trouble Fire, a country ballad as exquisitely sad as they get, from Jenifer's third album, Birds. Making Austin, deep in the heart of Texas, her home base, was an auspicious move that facilliated the creation of this charming, funny, poignant, meticulously crafted collection of songs.
Great songwriters never have to look far to find great musicians. The Austin-based cast of characters here have a chemistry and and unselfconsciously joyous connection to the music as direct and intense as any group Jenifer has ever assembled, to rival her first teenage band in Boston (which included Paul Bryan, Jay Bellerose and Jonny Polonsky), and her New York band with guitar genius Oren Bloedow. So, it's no surprise that for the first time ever, Jenifer includes songs here that she's written with others. There's the deliciously aphoristic Heart with a Mind of Its Own, a classic country co-write with Dickie Lee Erwin. And Kullen Fuchs, who plays a small vanload of instruments on this, co-wrote the artfully arranged duet Paint It Gold as well as the gently visionary anthem White Medicine Cloud.
And the rest of this is the Jenifer Jackson we know and love: no wasted words, no wasted notes, a voice and a vision which can be as tender as they are resolute. And fun too! The countrypolitan chamber swing of Texas Sunrise; the way the pulsing string section parts the waters for Kullen's recorder on All Around; that jaunty walk down Phil Spencer's bass into a counterintuitive chord change as In Summer begins; and the elegant handoff from cello, to accordion, to bubbly mariachi horns in On My Mind are just a small handful of the boundlessly imaginative touches here that reveal themselves with repeated listening. You are in for a real treat with this record.- Alan Young - Music Critic - writing about Jenifer’s record, TEXAS SUNRISE
There is a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke that captures the essence of the music of Jenifer Jackson: "If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable." Throughout her body of work, Jenifer's music has possessed a pureness, a vivid naturalness that reveals not only the surface but the emotional worlds that dance just above this one. Like a pond and the mist that rises above it, these songs offer a vivid beauty as well as a yearning for the ethereal, the hopeful, the undefinable yet richly felt; in short, it is music that is pleasing to the ears as well as a kindred companion for the heart, a soundtrack for both the dream world and the one that we wake to.
Through her years in New York, Jenifer charmed listeners with music that seemed to exist both on the street and above the rooftops. Playing in cafes that would oftentimes become hushed, entranced by the music, her genre defying style began to find it's voice. Elements of country, 60's and 70's soul, bossa nova, jazz vocal, 60's pop and a sort of folk that touched upon psychedelia all were platforms for songs that mixed impressionistic imagery with the striving of a hopeful heart. Dreamy musings on longing would sit beside songs of heart quickening pop perfection. Among those who noticed were singer/songwriter Jules Shear who she has supported on tour, radio stations WFUV and WFMU, influential clubs such as Sine and The Living Room, and band mates / collaborators including Paul Bryan (Aimee Mann), Pat Sansone (Wilco, The Autumn Defense), Sonny Barbato, Oren Bloedow (Elysian fields, Chocolate Genius), Greg Wiz ( Twilight Singers, Joe Arthur), Nate Walcott (Bright Eyes), Nashville's Brad Jones and Jay Bellerose (Joe Henry, Allison Kraus).
Jenifer also composed the score for the award-winning indie film, Daydream Believer, which won a 2001 Independent Spirit Award, and Best Dramatic Feature in Slamdance. She recorded and released an album of standard jazz duets with her father, Julian, called Together In Time. Among her other collaborations, she co-wrote songs with Austin's Troy Campbell, Nashville's Swan Dive, and with Mads Mouritz for his Danish release, This Chaos Called Love. She also co-starred with Rosie Perez in the off-Broadway play, Brooklyn Bridge.
Her release on Bar None Records, So High, made its mark on radio audiences nationwide and landed on many a year-end "Best of" list including KKUT in Austin and WFUV n New York. Tangents UK named So High "Best Soft Pop Album of 2003." Jenifer appeared on World Café with David Dye, Mountain Stage and NPR's All Things Considered. So High was released in France on Bad Reputation Records during Spring 2005. It includes two French re-mixes La Force de L'Amour and Si Haut. In the same year Jenifer recorded an album of Goffin-King hits from the 60's and 70's produced by Pat Sansone.
JJ was featured on Texas TV Show Austin's Underground Musicians in the fall of 2010. Jackson performed at the legendary Olympia Theater in Paris for the first International Crossroads Night, and was featured in the nationally syndicated television series, Spotlight on Performing Songwriters.
Through the years, Jenifer's sound has evolved and taken on new colors and shades. The artistic movement was mirrored by a physical movement, from New York to Texas, and it is evident in the resulting recordings. Albums such as The Day Happiness Found Me seem to be radioed in from a place of big skies and open spaces. A folk / soul / country hybrid that is unique to her music has found it's form on recent recordings, with a yearning sweetness that matches in intensity what it possesses in comforting beauty. On her new album, these elements reach new heights, and do so in an overflowing set of harmony laden melodic gems that conjure everything from dreaming by a river, to a first kiss, to a night being enraptured by the stars, to an almost "cowboys lullaby" feeling. In short, this is what Jenifer Jackson does and has always done- provide music as a companion for the darkness and light, bringing the details in nature- both our nature and the natural world around us- into poetry enhanced focus via song.- Andy Waltzer