Despite the fact that music now moves digitally around the world in seconds, it's one of the realities of the music business that geography still affects when music is released. This has it's advantages somtimes--Halifax singer songwriter Jenn Grant's fourth full length album The Beautiful Wild has been out for a while in Canada, and that's a fortunate thing for those of us who've been listening to it since the fall.
The Beautiful Wild lands in America this week, and it's long overdue. The album is a fine work that showcases Grant's voice and songwriting talents. Produced by Grant's husband and musical collaborator Daniel Ledwell the album is more musically lush than Grant's sparser earlier material while somehow avoiding the feeling of being "overproduced" (a term that's hard to describe but obvious when you hear it.) Ledwell's ear as producer brings a fullness to the album that's impressive.
The Beautiful Wild
sees Grant returning to a quieter, more contemplative mode of songwriting than her previous release Honeymoon Punch
. The slow paced drums of album opener The Fighter
serve as a perfect accompaniment for Grant's voice while lyrics such as "Oh my hero tried / But I fought too many times / Seeing you in the scenes / Of an old time movie"
draw the listener firmly into the world of memory The Beautiful Wild
The album's pace picks up with songs like I've Got Your Fire , White Dove
and the official album closer In The Belly of a Dragon--
the latter serving as the lead off single for the album and one of the finest songs to be released in 2012 (you can hear it on Soundcloud.
If those upbeat moments are good , it's still the album's quieter more introspective ones that make the collective work exceptional. In the years since her last album Grant's mother passed away, and it's easy to see the memory of loved ones in exquisitely crafted songs like Hollywood with its refrain so "…I'd still be dreaming of you." The album's Gone Baby Gone seems to mix frustration and despair into a single song with only 37 words.
A Canadian tour happened in the fall of 2012, and the material on the album translates well live. With Ledwell accompanying Grant on keyboards the material remains rich and true to its original form. If you haven't seen Grant live make sure to catch her when she visits a town near you: she sparkles on stage and the banter with the audience is charming and authentic--you won't be disappointed.
Grant's back catalogue is formidable: her last album took an upbeat poppy turn and was nominated for the Polaris Prize, marking it as one of the best Canadian albums of the year. Previous efforts Echoes and Orchestra for the Moon were equally well regarded.
The Beautiful Wild
is a stronger work than all of these. It's both a deeply personal and incredibly accessible work that draws you into a world full of love, loss, sadness and flights of happiness. That's a hard combination to pull off, and Grant does it beautifully. The album takes Grant in new and welcome directions, and show a level of talent and refinement one would expect to find in artists with far more than 32 years to her name.