Any Kind of Angel
Folk Songs With a Country Heart and Poetic Soul.
Some days selecting albums to play and review can be quite random; but in this case it was because I skimmed the e-mail that the download was attached to as I added the music to my laptop.
Several names popped out as if they were in 3D …….. Slaid Cleaves and his friend and guitarist Scrappy Judd Newcomb, Jon Dee Graham, Warren Hood and Betty Soo too; all of which are regulars in one way or another on the RMHQ Hi-Fi ….. so if that’s the company Jenny Reynolds keeps; she’s gotta be worth an hour or two of my time.
It’s evident from opening track There Is a Road; that even without those names to pique my interest; Jenny’s beautiful voice would have captured my attention and heart anyway; pearlescent and expressive it adds extra magic to crushingly beautiful song of loss, which lingers in the memory long after it ends.
As with much music I listen to; it’s the singers voice which attracts me first …… doesn’t it everyone? Then the songs, stories and melodies evolve and seep into the subconscious the more I play the album; which is why ‘cutting and pasting’ Press Releases shows a great disservice to the artist and the work they put in to create their art.
Which is exactly why I made Mrs Magpie, stop what she was doing (another lockdown jigsaw btw) and listen to this album, and she now, too looked incredulous as she heard Dance For Me and Before I Know You’re Gone for the very first time.
While not quite an epiphany; the look on her face was the same as when she heard Nanci Griffith and Laura Cantrell for the first time many years ago.
Jenny Reynolds songwriting is quite deep at times; almost poetry, yet still accessible; especially if you are feeling quite fragile yourself.
The Way We Say Goodbye and the intense title track Any Kind of Angel, with it’s staggering opening stanza, fit that description perfectly well:
She left home like a shooting star across the sky in her Daddy’s car
Silver light and a thumbnail moon
I watched her go, my only girl
She met a man and found the world
Ran away like lovers do.
In my youth Jenny Reynolds would have been listed as a Singer-Songwriter; which she most certainly is; but there’s so much more to her songs than that simplistic title suggests; as she is a Folk Singer with a Country Heart; listen to The Way You Tease or her melancholic rendition of Hank’s I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry and tell me where you would file her in a collection.
There’s no way to describe any of these songs as ‘best’ or better’ but I can filter out two songs to choose a Favourite from.
Love and Gasoline is a rather brittle story made exceptional by the intertwining of Jenny’s voice, guitar playing and Mark Halman’s jazz inspired Fender Rhodes playing.
The other; and probably the one I’m selecting as my actual Favourite is White Knuckle Love (Didn’t I Know); an imaginative ‘cheating song’ that somehow manages to lives up to the title and is a certainty to feature in many of her peers sets as the years go by.
It’s never an easy exercise comparing a new artist to legends of the industry; but sometimes it’s necessary to give new readers/listeners an idea of what to expect, so I have no worries mentioning Nanci and Laura as I did earlier; but there’s more than a sprinkling of Joan Baez and Judy Collins as Jenny Reynolds’ voice caresses every nuance out of every word and note in every song here.
One for purists and casual music fans alike.