Thursday, May 14, 2009

Transmitter Failure - Jenny Owen Youngs

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As good as Jenny Owen Youngs' debut album, Batten The Hatches, was it did have that "unfinished" air about it (at least in it's original form) and as ever with these things the question about the second album was always going to be, for me, whether or not Youngs would be able to take on the "mainstream" without losing what made her so delightful in the first place.

Well thanks to the nice people at Amie Street, and indeed the lovely Miss Youngs herself, I picked up a download of her new album, two weeks before it's in-store release, for a bargain $7 (including a charity donation - so shame on anyone who illegally downloads it). And I can safely say that if there ever was a hurdle for her to climb to her second album, she's vaulted over it with ease.

It's everything that I loved about her debut but cranked up about five notches, never mind one. You could argue that it's slightly less off-kilter than her, at times, raw and nervy debut, but it's only a slight change and it's certainly not watered down at all. In fact, it's probably more the fact that a lot of the songs are just so damn catchy that most people will miss a lot of the deeper, more brutal meaning in the lyrics.

Starting with the 40-second First Person perhaps shows that Youngs' sense of humour is intact, and it's a delightful start, even if it's briefness will surprise you first time around. Not to worry though, as Last Person turns out to be a longer and fuller version and is an excellent tune.

And whether it be the up-tempo foot stompers of Led To The Sea or Clean Break or the more reflective moments such as Here Is A Heart or What Beats Within, Jenny Owen Youngs rarely puts a note wrong on this fabulous album. And the sheer scale of emotions she can take you on shows again that she can both tug at the heart strings and, with her tongue-in-cheek attitude, make you laugh.

First time around I said JOY was a talent to watch out. Second time around, she's proved me right.

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