In This by Jennifer Hall (First Listen)

By Randy Nieto
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I have met the lovechild of Neko Case and Norah Jones, and her name is Jennifer Hall. I recall a time when I was a younger, lonely man. Devastated by a recent breakup, I would spend an inordinate amount of time at a local lounge smoking cigarettes and drinking my troubles away. I realize now, years later, the only thing that was missing from this equation was Jennifer Hall and her band playing behind a thin veil of cigarette smoke in the corner. Her music and voice, equally soothing, caress the soft parts of your heart, and almost make you wish you had something to feel sad about. However, this is not a depressing album by any means. It’s more reflective. In the song “Green and Blue”, a soft ballad with haunting piano, Jennifer wistfully sings “The world will still be green and blue/ after I sing a song for you/but hope the colors seem/ as beautiful as you are to me”. A blanket of violins weaves in and out through songs that are often punctuated between verses with short little bluesy guitar solos. It must be said though that the whole album isn’t as melancholy as I describe it. The song When we were good is a straight up rocker, with horns that accompany a strong chorus. Jennifer sings confidently, almost demanding, and she manages to still bring in harmonies that, combined with the pounding drums, send a chill down your spine. In This is a really good album, and I feel she could be a dark horse in the running that will create a rather large splash in the Chicago scene and beyond. Whatever the case may be, don’t let her be a sleeper.

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