Jennifer Haase: No More Invitations
“Folk pop” is what Jennifer Haase calls the music on her new CD, No More Invitations. To me, this means it is between genre, neither folk nor pop. It is certainly not Pete Seeger/Woody Guthrie folk. It’s not Gillian Welch, either. At the same time, the album doesn’t have a pop feel, at least not in a bad way.
Categorization is helpful to those who are considering whether to take a chance on a newer artist, so it has value here. As I listened to the record of strong songs all written by Ms. Haase, it occurred to me that “female singer songwriter” might be a better way to describe what I was hearing, although I concede that is not really a genre. The album is somewhere between Julie Miller and Aimee Mann, with a little Mary Chapin Carpenter mixed in for good measure. Even as I type those names, it’s clear to me that none is a really good fit, as Ms. Haase is clearly doing her own thing here.
Doing her own thing is a pretty good way of thinking about Ms. Haase. She brought her Midwestern sensibilities (most of them, anyway) to the New York area just over a decade ago, determined to make it in the music business. No More Invitations is her second album, some five years in the making. Ms. Haase raised $15,000 from fans/friends/family through her website and social media to record this CD. Meanwhile, she’s kept the lights on by writing custom songs for weddings and special occasions. Those two enterprises came together quite nicely when one of her wedding song customers found out about the album project and made a large donation to close out the fundraising effort.
It’s no small feat (or coincidence) that Rosanne Cash and Stephen Kellogg each contribute their voices to a song on the CD. Ms. Haase met Mr. Kellogg at Ms. Cash’s songwriting workshop in 1997. That workshop inspired Ms. Haase to take her songwriting to the next level, finish her first album, then move her location from Nebraska to New York. I particularly like Oneonta, the song with Ms. Cash. It’s just Ms. Haase on lead vocals and guitar with her producer, Mike Leslie, on bass and glockenspiel and Ms. Cash’s backing vocals. The song is a prayer for a mysterious girl: “Oneonta, this girl at your altar, please hold her tonight.” 3,000 miles, the song with Mr. Kellogg, is quite good, also. As for the other nine songs on the album, it’s a nice ride from the sexiness of New Pink Sweater to the dreaminess of Rescue Dreams, with a lot in between.
Also joining Ms. Haase on the CD are musicians David M. Patterson, Kit Karlson, Catherine Bent, Gary Schreiner and Denny McDermott. In addition to Ms. Cash and Mr. Kellogg, there are guest vocals from Patty Ocfemia, Gretchen Witt and Mr. Leslie.
You can learn more about Ms. Haase and No More Invitations at www.rhymeswithclassy.com.