Jenna Torres – All Heart
It used to be a joke to say someone from NY was releasing a country LP. What does a New Yorker know about country music?
Not anymore…not if a Jenna Torres is nearby. On the 1st of her 8-cut CD All Heart (Released Feb 17/Independent) the song’s just hair below a Lucinda Williams type tale (but with more genuine country caressed vocals. Jenna is not a growl, not gritty or aggressive. She’s a small potent tree growing alongside the strong oaks of Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Brenda Lee, & Reba McIntyre).
This song is well-arranged & filled with enthusiasm. The musicianship is tight, & vivid. “Better Boots,” couldn’t have been better performed if it was sung by someone from Nashville or Austin. Jenna has a pinch of attitude but that’s a New York trait.
Good tone dominates with “Wild Thing,” she’s modernist — draws water from traditional wells. My only issue: the title. Which is also a world-famous 60s rock song. She should call hers “When You Take a Chance on a Wild Thing” to distinguish it. When I saw that title, I thought it was a cover of the classic Troggs hit penned by Chip Taylor. Nonetheless, good vocals, great song. Period.
“Till Forever,” is a mature ballad, sincere despite lyrical cliches, redeemed by Jenna’s poignant vocal & excellent musicianship prevails. A more diversified title should read as sung “Till Forever Runs Out of Time,” – that’s powerful.
But Ms. Torres provides genuine country vocals, pure & with validity. A pleasure.
“Half-Hearted Man,” is a good story song. “Even a fool figures it out eventually….” Nice. Hot guitar lick & backup vocals make this one ass-kicker of a performance.
On “All Heart,” a good old-fashioned ballad my issue here is again are lyrical clichés. Still evident – though sparsely. It’s like adding too much milk to good coffee. Jenna’s redeemed on “Rose of Jericho,” but the song starts strong but loses momentum. Oh, it picks up fast enough, it’s a good country rocker. Well recorded, with a gospel element to Jenna’s voice that shows diversification. But the arrangement needs a tweak: think the Rolling Stones. It’s an easy fix. This song needs to start & keep going. A good slice of Wynona Judd dynamic. The well-woven backup vocals are super-charged. The guitars grind nicely.
Not all is lost – this piece is gourmet country.
Will Denton (drums), Chris Donohue & Stephen Masin (bass), Stephen Leiweke (Guitars/programming), Matt Stanfield (keys) & Anana Kaye with Kirsten Dinsmore (backup vocals).
Jenna’s voice is assertive (“Tell Me Your Story”) & she has vocal individuality but needs to up the ante — concentrate on lyrics. Discover country song subjects no one does. Majors won’t tell you this – they want a formula. It’s hard. Jenna’s thankfully isn’t formulaic. What makes a singer’s songs memorable is originality, & diversification: then it becomes a signature.
I’m not worried about Jenna Torres – she has the goods with her music. If she sings…people will listen.
The 29-minute CD: Produced in Nashville by Stephen Leiweke. Available @ https://www.jennatorres.com/