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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Jennings - Collapse, Collide

Jennings - Collapse, Collide
2011, Mary Jennings

New York City-based singer/songwriter (Mary) Jennings returns on May 10, 2011 with her third album, Collapse, Collide.  Jennings has spent much of the past year touring and working with Billboard-charting songwriters to further develop her sense of song craft.  These efforts are apparent on Collapse, Collide, although, as always, with growth comes growing pains.

Collapse, Collide opens with "Surrender", an electro-ethereal pop number that falls somewhere between Sarah McLachlan and Sara Bareilles.  Jennings' distinctive voice is on display here, although it seems as if she never really opens it up.  It's a solid starter, but without the sort of dynamism you might expect.  "The Darkness" is in similar territory, but shows much better realization and execution of what Jennings might have foreseen when writing the song.  Centered on a solid groove, Jennings builds around an original progression that serves as a natural focus for her muse.  "Everlong" is a plus love ballad, although it sounds like Jennings may have chosen a key too low.  She appears to struggle with the bottom of the melody line at times, with pitch being the casualty. 

"Falling Higher" is a great tune with a lot of potential.   Jennings is spot-on in this love song, but the production is a bit messy and at times, distracting.  Jennings offers herself as support to loved one in "Cling To Me", a well-intended and well-written tune that just doesn't become itself in execution.  This isn't so much an artistic issue as a production one.  "U-Turns" is a vibrant pop number with real potential that once again falters on the boards.  The remainder of the album is solid yet uninspiring contemporary adult contemporary alternative rock music that is nicely slotted for radio consideration but fails to live up to what Jennings is capable of.

Collapse/Collide would be a solid effort from many artists, but Mary Jennings has made a point of cutting her own path through the emotional hinterlands that have defined her previous work.  Jennings' move to the commercial center is somewhat befuddling, as she seems to surrender her own voice for a quasi-corporate conception of what she should sound like.  Jennings is a distinctive enough talent to make it work as best she might, but hard core Jennings fans won't know what to do with Collapse, Collide.  Chalk it up to an artist going through the growing pains of how to commercialize their art in a meaningful way without giving up the spirit that got her this far.  The compromises here are too many, and the production is too messy to allow Jennings to emerge from Collapse/Collide

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Jennings at or, Collide drops on May 10, 2011.  Pre-orders are available through on CD and as a Download.  Preorders are also available via iTunes.

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