There's nothing like a little heartbreak and the hunger for love in all the right places to get the creative juices flowing. Love, betrayal, and finally freedom inform and inspire Jenifer Jackson's new album, So High. Her songs are full of deep emotion, desire, and hope, and they're performed to perfection. Longtime fans of her first two albums, Slowly bright (1999) and Birds (2001), will immediately recognize a newfound confidence in her work. As Pure Music.com put it, "The way she sings makes the most cynical dreamer want to fall in love again, the high risk notwithstanding."
Jenifer Jackson is a singer's singer and a writer's writer. She's that rare breed of performer who knows that emoting for the sake of pyrotechnics has little to do with truly delivering a song. On Jenifer's Bar/None debut, she smolders and she soars. So High is a terrific mix of her own compositions, from finely crafted pop ("The Power Of Love") to '60s-flavored folk-rock ("Down So Low") with a surprising and very satisfying detour into Philly-style soul ("Got To Have You").
"I'm a big fan of D'Angelo, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye," explains Jenifer. " I could always sing slow groove stuff like that, but I'd never tried writing songs in that vein until now. The band was so hot and groovy and it all came together so naturally."
The album features a stellar lineup of musicians that includes long-time New York City compatriots Oren Bloedow (guitar) and Joey Barbato (piano/accordion). This time around they're joined by drummer G. Wiz, fresh from New Orleans, and bassist Pat Sansone, a former Nashvillian. Pat also produced the album coming up with a lot of the remarkable sonic ideas. Much of the work was done last summer in singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur's Manhattan studio, where Pat and Jenifer had the luxury of experimenting while Arthur was out on the road.
"It made the process so much fun because we weren't watching the clock," Jenifer reveals. "Not having time constraints really freed up our creativity. And it was air-conditioned."
So High caps a year of great productivity for Jenifer. She composed the score for the indie film Daydream Believer, and cut an album of jazz duets with her dad called Together In Time. (One listen to Pop Jackson's take on "Route 66" and you'll know where she gets her pipes). She co-wrote songs with Austin's Troy Campbell and with Swan Dive for their album June (Compass). She co-starred off-off-Broadway with Rosie Perez in the play Brooklyn Bridge. In past years she's collaborated with Medeski Martin & Wood, appeared on various Manhattan stages as part of the Loser Lounge musical tribute series, recorded a "lost" album produced by Wreckless Eric in France (don't ask) and toured the USA dueting with Jules Shear.
Now, sit back, relax, and turn on to So High.