This album, Black Water by Jenny Dalton,was a pleasure to listen to, and after looping too many times to count, I’ve found there are a few songs in particular that really stand out for me.
I catch myself singing “Wolf Named Someday” as I’m showering or sitting at work. Even after just one listen, it was, hands down, my favorite track on the album. The dark, brooding feel at the beginning drops into the sparse piano driven hook that has this sad, kind of lonely feel that drags you in and pulls your heart strings. The percussion is arranged excellently, and helps to drastically shift the dynamic feel between the different sections.
There are other great moments on this album as well. The opening track “Paper Moon” grabs you right away with the huge echoing drums and the airy vocal harmonies. The track makes a sudden shift towards rock as the full arrangement comes in. The track shifts again when a chant-like vocal part comes in; the kind of line that everyone sings along in a live setting (if I had to guess).
The story-telling quality of Jenny’s writing reminds me of earlier Jann Arden (which is compliment, as she’s a favourite of mine). The words are interesting and have just the right amount of darkness to keep them intriguing and mysterious without being angsty. There are plenty of hooks present on the disc, especially in tracks like “Wolf Named Someday”, “Rage” and “Wake Up Call”. Some of the tracks have this airy quality to them, like Jenny took all the best qualities from Enya and skipped the cheesy reverbs and string lines, leaving the album with the same calmness, but far more emotional relevance.
There is some beautiful piano work present through the album as well; it is never too complicated or overplayed, always tasteful. I especially enjoyed the keys work in the last track, “Hold On, Hold On”. That being said, though, I would have loved to have seen a larger variation of sounds throughout the album. The piano and drum sounds, and especially some of the pad sounds, are quite repetitive throughout. Because of that, it can be a bit tricky to differentiate the songs on the first or second pass. Eventually the hooks really emerge and show the power of the songs, but some more courageous decisions in the arrangements and production of the album may have pushed it into being that much more powerful. “Paper Moon”, as an example, had this great guitar line that came in and added a strong grittiness to the track. So, while the track was still piano driven, the guitar and the march-like snare work to really set this particular song apart. A few more tracks that pushed the boundaries like that could have given the album a more dynamic feel overall.
Anyways, while there are small things that could be improved, “Black Water” is still a fantastic album, and one that will most definitely remain in my playlist. I will be keeping an eye on Jenny Dalton, as I really look forward to her future work.
Written by Paul Orton