Saturday, April 28, 2007

Batten The Hatches - Jenny Owen Youngs

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When is a new album not a new album? When it's already been self-released in 2005 that's when. Still, it may have taken two years for Jenny Owen Youngs (and try saying that correctly when you're drunk) to get this album released by a label, but it's a wait that proves worth it.

Influenced by everyone from "Beck to Jesus Christ Superstar to Britney Spears" and with a website that announces tour dates with the words "when and where Jenny will next sit on your lap" it's clear right from the start that Youngs isn't your "cookie-cutter" pop star. One critic labelled her as "Feist meets KT Tunstall" and in many ways that just about sums her up. She has Tunstall's eye for a tune and has that eccentricity that makes Feist such a fun proposition. (Although for reasons of personal safety I probably wouldn't echo the Guardian and their "kindly move over KT Tunstall" proclamation!)

Most of the pre-album publicity revolved around the track Fuck Was I, which was played on some American TV show or something. It's not the aggressive ditty the title would suggest and for those who don't mind the profanity it's sure to strike a chord with anyone who's ever messed up a relationship and known exactly where they've gone wrong. And in three and a half minutes is sums up the appeal of Youngs. At once she can both tug at the heart strings and, with her tongue-in-cheek attitude, make you laugh.

It's a great track, but it's not the best thing on the album. The sparse and bluesy Lightening Rod and Voice On Tape are two of the albums slower and more mellow highlights, whilst Bricks adds a swirl of strings to great effect. But as if to prove she's not one-paced, the upbeat Porchill and the country tinged Coyote are both excellent as well.

Listening to this its amazing that it took so-long to be snapped up for a proper release, but no matter the wait, it was well worth it. Some might, I suppose, be put off by some of the choice language, but get past that and this is an album that deserves to be huge. Jenny Owen Youngs is one hell of a talent.

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