Jenny Owen Youngs

REVIEW: Jenny Owen Youngs “Avalanche”


Jenny Owen Youngs – Avalanche

On the surface, Jenny Owen Youngs’ latest, Avalanche, comes from a dark place, with songs titles like “Knife Went In,” “Bury Me Slowly” and “Set It On Fire,” and yes some of the themes here come from some of life’s more tragic moments, but there is also an undeniable optimism in the lyrics, focusing on finding the light that follows the dark.

“There’s a good deal of heartbreak and disappointment in this music, but it ultimately gives way to excitement and promise, to the incredible, immeasurable bliss of falling in love and finding yourself again,” Youngs says. “These songs travel the whole emotional spectrum.”

You can hear that love distinctly in an ethereal song like “Goldenrod” or “Next time Around”. On one of the early stand out tracks on the record, “It’s Later Than You Think” – a track she cowrote with Peter Silberman of The Antlers – Youngs sings about putting aside your phone and social media to focus on life happening in the moment. A relatable message that is delivered easily thanks to her remarkably enjoyable vocals and the addictive nature of the song. The song carries on the great tradition of singing about focusing on living in the now, up there with songs like Prince Buster’s “Enjoy Yourself” or James Taylor’s “Secret of Life.” Along with Silberman, Youngs also called in a number of other friends to help write on Avalanche, including S. Carey, Madi Diaz, and Christian Lee Hutson.

The album closer, “Now Comes The Mystery,” is heartbreakingly beautiful, written while reflecting on the recent death of a loved one, and perfectly synthesizes the emotional heft of this record. But if you go back to the opening title track, immediately at the end of the album to relisten again, “Avalanche” is a perfect bookend, covering topics of grief and destruction, but eventually starting over again.

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