I wonder if God uses a calculator. The answer would no doubt be an ecumenical matter but I will nonetheless hazard a guess that God isn’t constrained by the 1 + 1 = 2 logicality that afflicts the rest of us. Certainly that would go a long way to explain why giving a woman, even a dysfunctional one, a piano always causes 1 + 1 to equal something else. Like apples for example.
Talking of apples – I do like a good segue – Jenna Jarnagin could easily be seen as a hybrid of the styles of Fiona Apple, Carole King and Carly Simon. Could be but a reviewer’s life isn’t that simple. That heart on the sleeve approach to putting a melody to car crash relationships certainly features in the songs on this album although the American popular song is in there too and that gives a certain, for want of a better word, playfulness to the proceedings. You can't help but smile as you sing along to “I Adore You” or, indeed, nod your head in agreement to the sentiments expressed in the 9 to 5 soul sell-out “Don’t Want This Job”.
There is a serious side to this album too. Ms Jarnagin clearly knows the value of counterpoint and journeys down the road to desperation and redemption with “Help Me Lord”. It would seem that life isn’t all fun and games after all. That’s the bit that trips you up. You might think she’s one of the crowd but she’s not afraid of the shadows.
That said, the entertainment value remains high throughout – Ms Jarnagin never forgets she has an audience -and the album even gets a big production number as a closer. While “Dirty Girl” is a wry song in lyrical terms, the listener – or at least one who is paying attention – might get to wonder if the songs on this album are more personal, and more confessional, than their shiny surface might suggest.
Some money has been thrown at this album too. There are real musicians and proper big band arrangements to add gravitas and thus highlight the fact that Ms Jarnagin is determined to make her mark. She also looks good in a hat. Buy the CD and you will understand just how shallow I really am.