How would you answer the question “What kind of music do you like?” Maybe a list of favorites, or a single genre label that mostly describes your taste? One common answer is “I like anything but country.” Jenny Whiteley's recent release Forgive Or Forget is a great retort to that unfortunate declaration. She sings ten of her own beautiful folk and country songs without a snag. The album features clever, catchy, and inviting tunes and Whiteley delivers her heartfelt vocals with subtle prowess.
Simple melodies can be the easiest to sing, but the hardest to sing well. It's up to the vocalist to make a simple song interesting with the right presentation. Folk melodies have acres of wiggle room for interpretation. Whiteley brings her songs to life with deliberate, artful phrasing. Everything about the record screams 'attention to detail.' The lyrics are satisfying, poetic stories told with clever rhymes (essential for good folk or country music). They're poignant but not at all sappy like the country schmaltz that fills airwaves. The songs are well-written and a few of them are real gems like “Half Life.” Producer Steve Dawson makes mince meat of all the run-of-the-mill country music out these days. The adventurous array of organs, synths, and unexpected guitar sounds boosts the album to darkly – tinted sonic excellence. It sounds fresh and interesting, and reminds me of Wilco's awesome mixes.
Jenny Whiteley is an award – winning singer with over a decade in the spotlight. She's the best folk singer I've never heard before and I'm glad I finally did. She began her career singing roots music but Forgive Or Forget is a fully contemporary album. It's about personal experiences with love, fresh fodder from Whiteley's own life.