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So High

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Album Review

Jenifer Jackson's second album is a small masterpiece by a singer/songwriter who should be mentioned in the same breath as Aimee Mann, Michael Penn, or Beth Orton when great modern pop singer/songwriters are being discussed. On So High, Jackson and producer Pat Sansone have crafted an intimate record built on gently strumming guitars, polite drums, and judicious use of electronics. Lest you think the record is sonically boring, there are plenty of instrumental touches that keep things interesting: accordions, weird synthesizers, samba-style drum machine beats, lots of mellow piano. The best songs are the ballads like "Since You've Been Away" and "End of August," where Jackson's hushed vocals sweep the listener away on a gentle wave. "Through Leaves" is especially beautiful, with an understated bossa nova feel, sort of like an Astrud Gilberto ballad but with singing that stays in tune. The uptempo tracks are solid, too. "Down So Low" is the best of these, sounding like a strong Sam Phillips track. "So High" is another stunner, with Jackson sounding like an angry young Chrissie Hynde on the chorus. The record's highlight is the seven-and-a-half-minute "Got to Have You," which rides a loping Memphis soul beat and sounds like a classic Carole King song, but much funkier. It is a totally unexpected departure and it really works well. "So Warm" is full of nice surprises, but the one constant that puts the record over the top is Jackson's voice. Her angel-pure vocals are warm and sensual throughout the album. Even if the songs were weak, the vocals would be enough to make the album worthwhile. She could sing the back of a Special K box and make it sound like a sweet love song. So High is an under-the-radar gem. You'll be patting yourself on the back for a long while if you take a chance and check it out.


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

New York-based singer/songwriter Jenifer Jackson mixes jazzy vocals and blissful pop into reflective, literate songs. Her debut album Slowly Bright won her much critical acclaim, as well as a deal with Parasol, who released her second album Birds in early 2001. Two years later, Jackson's brightest material...
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So High, Jenifer Jackson
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