Terrill Jenkins brings his stories to life on his new EP – Life Lessons_ The Struggle. And it’s a meaningful ride as his lyrics go deeper than most you’ll likely ever hear. This artist is a world class R&B style crooner and an all- around musical powerhouse of colossal proportion. Coming from Austin, TX, that can be tricky because there’s a sound you either blend in with or you don’t. It’s clear that Jenkins fits that bill, and his astonishing soulful voice is what mostly proves it over a lot of musical variety to back it, including some gospel and country. In-fact, there’s plenty of smooth jazz inflections as well.
The six-track EP kicks off in heavy-handed fashion with “The Struggle” carrying on about how it’s a rough ride with fake friends, users and haters bringing him much to sing about on the subject-of making it another day in-the midst of it all. This is a great opener backed by a mellow tune that mostly fits an R&B/smooth jazz combo, but also a very soulful and emotional vocal effort. “Reckless Tragedy” follows with a little more of a gospel feel, but just as socially political as the former track with Jenkins getting brutally honest with lyrics about everything from loneliness to suicide over a lost love.
“When I Get Home” is more of a lighthearted number with a slow groove that never quits. The music takes more of a front seat on this track, with the vocals a little lower in the mix on a track about advising what’s right and wrong about coming home to the usual problems in life, like arriving late and dealing with the realities of being imperfect. And it plays well in succession with “I’m Yours” which is a straight ballad in the shape of a love song with all the bells and whistles, and where Jenkins let’s everything hang out, including some excellent backup vocals added by Giovanna McDanel.
After such an assault on the senses, “Ebony Rose” finds its place as one of the highlights of the disc, embodying everything Jenkins has to offer in just one song. Every element comes together collectively on this epic ballad about getting piece of mind over matters. The world class singing of Jenkins meets with a high standard of songwriting and all there is to do is get through the rest of the disc and playing it again, which is what I did. And this track also falls into adult contemporary territory for one of the most accessible moments on Life Lessons_The Struggle.
The set closes with another mesmerizing moment that compliments the previous track very well to take the closing spot. “Make It Through” finds Jenkins in humble mode after a collection of songs that really hit where the heart and mind can negatively collide. Not only are these tracks musically impressive, but they’re even more lyrically superior in the sense of how songs can be great messages. The music on this EP is not only soothing, it’s massively thought provoking without disturbing the infectious groove. Both elements are important and Terril Jenkins is a master at keeping everything together without losing any interest in the process.