Songs and Stillness is a lovely music box for the season.
My first interview with American artist Jenne Lennon happened in 2009. How time flies. And yet we continue to keep in touch. There are ties that are intense but fragile. But there are friendships that are meant to last longer. I am not just talking about our relationships with people. I am also referring to our ongoing fascination with certain types of music. Yes it is still a relationship. When an artist creates a certain style that you like, then excitement follows every release.
Her voice is a regular many Celtic music compilations. She belongs to the gene pool of talented people. Her sibling Dani is an actress and creative producer in L.A.
Songs and Stillness is the new recording and you can get it via iTunes. The artwork features the singer-songwriter lying on a comfy grass bed, with a joyful expression. There are thirteen songs in the album (plus one bonus track). All recordings are purely acoustic-no electronics or autotune added. Her voice is strong and clear, almost dramatic soprano though she claims it’s lyric mezzo-soprano.
Open My Eyes introduces us to the general mood of the album. The cinematic feel is the result of strings, piano and various acoustic instruments plus percussion. I think it is a song that is meant for the times. We are humbled by tragedies great and small, and we start to see what matter’s the most. Flanders Field is pure atmosphere with a marching beat. Suil A Ruin is a traditional Gaelic tune which she has breath a new life into. This song has an interesting arrangement as it is sung entirely in a cappella harmony (she overdubbed three to four voices) with only the soft beat of the bodhrán in the background.
Gartan Mother’s Lullaby is a sweet surprise as this is a rare track. Here’s an interesting background: is an old Irish song and poem written by Herbert Hughes and Seosamh Mac Cathmhaoil, first published in Songs of Uladh [Ulster]in 1904. Hughes collected the traditional melody in Donegal the previous year and Campbell wrote the lyrics. The song is a lullaby by a mother, from the parish of Gartan in County Donegal. The song refers to a number of figures in Irish mythology, places in Ireland and words in the Irish language.-Wikipedia. The sweet humming and instrument should lull you to sleep, but not in this case. This is too beautiful to miss!
Bonny Portmore follows with folk arrangement (guitar, wooden flute and strings). Solennite is a hymn. She sings gently almost to a whispher. This is perhaps one of the intensely atmospheric tracks in the album. Then there’s Blackbirds and Thrushes and then the stunning version of Simon and Garfunkel classic Scarborough Fair.
I love the piano in Snow Falling Down. The Water is Wide makes me want to bring out my votive candles. Joni’s Theme is taken from the movie Blood Below the Skin. Lennon is heavily involved in this project as the film’s musical director. This track is purely instrumental, rendered in piano and cello. It starts gradually then builds up into a beautiful drama of notes.The poignant melody reflects the story of the three characters in the film. Joni’s Theme showcases her talent as a film composer and hopefully we get to hear more of this kind of project from her.
Sweet Prospect features a hurdy-gurdy and bagpipes below the French-Celtic inspired vocals. Her hills-to-heaven version of She Moved Through The Fair closes Songs and Stillness.
Anam (Spirit) is a bonus track which is a class of its own. It is a rock ballad that explodes midway with guitar and drums. It showcases her vocal range and expressive power.
Overall, Songs and Stillness is an album for the holidays. It is a music box of emotions and souvenirs from far off places. A must-have in these troubled times.
You can download Songs and Stillness via iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/songs-and-stillness/id1042787616
Vist her official website: http://www.jennelennon.com