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CD REVIEW: Jen Woodhouse - "This Honest Age"
By Gian F - 03/29/2005 - 10:59 PM EST

Artist: Jen Woodhouse
Album: "This Honest Age"
CD Review: Genre: Adult Alternative
Sounds Like: Suzanne Vega
Technical Grade: 9
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9
Commercial Value: 8
Overall Talent Level: 9
Songwriting Skills: 9
Performance Skill: 9
Best Songs: Not Myself, Breaking Point, Searching For Orion, Turning Circles
Weakness: ?
CD Review: Jen Woodhouse, a singer/songwriter/musician from lovely Oxford, Alabama, sent in an eye-grabbing package that can easily be described as a great recording of a live performance. Because it was recorded in a studio, there were no sounds of people applauding, but music critics and fans alike will applaud her achievements on this project.

The intelligent, yet simple production style of Jen, and her co-producer Jon Young, resulted in an almost raw, but warm, organic CD that breathes; enabling you to breathe right along with it as Jen effortlessly plucks the guitar while serving up lyrics, melodies, and commanding vocal performances that engage you with the intimacy of a front row performance at a small cafe with her stadium-filling talent. Her seasoned voice recalls the confidence of a veteran performer who is at home on stage and comfortable in front of a mic and she, unlike so many other self-proclaimed singer/songwriters, truly belongs there. The ten tracks on her debut CD are proof of that.

The most commercial and compelling track on the disc, "Not Myself," is a clever, thought-provoking song that can be interpreted in many different ways; I happened to interpret it as a song about losing one's identity in a relationship while settling for someone or (some life) that is not appropriate for you.

Here's verse 1:

"Ya know everyone's more interested in themselves than they are in anyone else, and my life is a dreadful reflection...of a girl who is not herself...and I am ashamed cause I am not brave enough to walk away...from walk away from you..." She continues..."I am sick of me and my complacency, like quicksand I don't understand...just how this came to be...and here I am sinking, lost in my own thinking, dumb and fumbling, stunned and blinking...I am fading away...I am fading away (chorus)...I am not myself...I am someone else...I am not myself, with you...

Wow! I think we have a leading contender for my 2005 Muse's Muse Award for the best song of the year.

Lyric driven projects like this are the reason why lyric sheets were invented, and with songs of this quality there's no shortage of follow-up radio material either. "Breaking Point," in particular, would create a powerful 1-2 punch (with "Not Myself") for radio stations. As would "Searching For Orion" with its memorable arrangement. Her songs are distinct, but similar enough in style to create a coherent project that showcases a strong identity as an artist; a rarity on a debut CD.

In this Pro Tool age, it's nice to get a throwback to "This Honest Age" of raw talent.

Advice: This project really captures and displays your writing and performance talents. Hit the road and go on tour, or contact a prominent booking agent to open for a major act. Yes, you are that good and most importantly, you are ready.

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