Jenny Whiteley (pronounced “White-lee”) had me from the first syllable she uttered on her new album release, Forgive Or Forget. She possesses one of those voices which just reaches out, grabs your attention, and holds you mesmerized. The clarity and pure tonal quality are things which cannot be taught but are just god given.
She is now about a dozen years into her career. Two of her albums have won Canadian Juno Awards for Best Traditional Albums of the year. Her self-titled 2001 debut and 2004's Hopetown established her as a singer/songwriter of note. Now her first studio album in four years, following 2006's Dear, continues that tradition of excellence.
She continues to write most of her own material as the old Buddy Holly tune, written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, is the only non-original. Instrumental backing is provided by producer Steve Dawson on acoustic, electric and steel guitars, drummer John Raham, bass player Darren Parris, Joey Wright on archtop guitar and mandolin, and keyboardist Chris Gestrin.
She is a traditional composer as her songs speak of love, regeneration, loss, and the joys of life. The lyrics are embedded within catchy melodies. She can best be categorized as a country/folk musician who crosses over to a Bluegrass type sound every once in awhile.
Her cover of “Raining In My Heart” is a gentle, easy flowing version. “Truth and The Eyes Of The Dead” features an aching electric guitar in the background with a rarely used mellotron in support. “Ripple Effect” is peppy, clever, and melodic which is always a good combination. “Cold Kisses” explores love falling apart.
Forgive Or Forget is an immensely personal album and ultimately pleasing album from Jenny Whiteley. It is evidence that her years of touring, performing, and recording have served her well. It is a nice addition to her canon of material. Plus you always have the voice.