There was a time – oh, there was a time – when there was money to be made in the record business. Talent, at least from the corporate risk perspective, was the key to success and, whilst the musicians of today may whine about the dangers of being exploited by the multinational money machine, it is always better to get 20% of something than 100% of nothing. Especially if you want to pay the rent.
Paying the rent could, on first acquaintance, be a suitable description for Jenny Jarnagin’s album “Bullseye”. After all, she recycles a good few songs from previous albums and, this time around, seasons them with the kind of mainstream polish that you might expect of someone looking for a publishing deal in dear old Nashville. Her theatrical instincts would also appear to have been suppressed in favour of obligatory guitar solos but the trouble with talent – and I mean the genuine God given type – is that you can’t hide it for long.
“Soldier of the Heart” therefore easily transcends its apparent radio friendliness and instead ventures into the shadows of emotional confusion while the laidback country style version of “There’s My Baby” doesn’t actually neuter the song as much as sit it on the gun rack in the back of a pickup truck right next to the, reflected in a cracked mirror, innocence of “Okie Girl”. “Dealing With The Devil”, however, puts this whole album into perspective as Ms Jarnagin returns to a somewhat malevolent take on her previously theatrical style. It is said, after all, that the Devil has all the best tunes and, to give credit to Ms Jarnagin’s performance, this song suggests that she still has his number on speed dial.
It would be easy to dismiss Jenny Jarnagin as just another – high end – singer songwriter from the good old USA but that would be to do her an injustice for beneath that highly polished surface is the kind of tormented intelligence that adds depth and resonance to her obvious song writing skills.