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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Jenn Summers - When Life Gives You Lemons

Jenn Summers – When Life Gives You Lemons
2012, Jenn Summers
Some folks spend their lives bemoaning the minor pits and pratfalls of life.  Others struggle bravely on in spite of steeper obstacles and keep a sunny disposition, grateful for what they have.  Enter Jenn Summers.  She is definitely of the latter group.  Afflicted with a congenital heart disease, Summers has already lived through three open heart procedures in her young life.  In spite of that, Summers displays a warmth and sweetness in her songwriting that is the product of a golden heart.  It all comes clear on her new album When Life Gives You Lemons. 
Summers kicks things off with “Blue Velveteen”, an ode to living fully and freely in spite of not having much in the way of worldly possessions.   The catchy country/folk/pop feel of this number is very appealing, and Summers’ voice is the perfect summer balm.  This is a great way to kick off an album.  “Get Better” is built in the same mode; a stripped down and simple arrangement that perfectly embraces Summers’ vocal.  There’s a bit more of a pop/singer-songwriter orientation here, and Summer’s everywoman voice is engaging and warm.
“When Life Gives You Lemons, Make L.O.V.E.” is a sweet song built on minimalist guitar, voices, handclaps, and a killer pop sensibility.  The jaunty feel of this number could make it prone to kitsch, but Jenn Summers sings it with such conviction that you never question her authenticity.    “This Side Of Free” is a straight-up pop/rock number that asks for the dropping of the guard in a relationship.  There’s a catchy feel here that gets in your head, even if the more full-sound orientation here is surprisingly thin.  “Don’t Mind Me” is self-pity in the form of a pop song.  The writing here is a bit bland, but Summers builds a nice sound out of it nonetheless. 
“The Monday Song” is pure fluffy folk/pop; it’s easy to imagine this song catching on to a movie soundtrack and raising Summers’ profile in the process.  “Wake Me Up” brings a touch of country flavor once again.  This is a song that sneaks up on you… the first listen might not be particularly notable, but this tune will grow on you over time.  Summers is at her vocal best here, and the slow build into the chorus will carry you along.  “Muchi Muchi” is a cute/sweet love long; bright and airy and lots of fun.  The simple arrangement and catchy melody are a winner, and Summer is perfectly in her element on the vocal. 
“On My Own” is a solid pop/country number dressed up as adult contemporary.  The melody is well crafted and hauntingly familiar even on first listen. The pacing here is a bit off, and the rhymes a bit predictable, but Summers does a fine job of making it all work.  When Life Gives You Lemons winds down with “Bad Idea”, a dreamy piano ballad.  The sound here is silky smooth, with Summers creating a near-perfect sonic blend.  The lyrical output here is still a bit awkward at times, but the sound is so smooth you won’t care.
Jenn Summers has a gift for creating bright airy pop songs and lyric ballads, crafted in simple arrangements that are rarely more or less than exactly what they need to be.  When Life Gives You Lemons is both more and less than it should be.  Sonically, Summers keeps things simple yet brings out the utter beauty of simple arrangements, an artistic choice that fits well thematically with much of her lyric writing.  From a lyrical perspective, Summers’ authenticity and sweetness of heart cannot be questioned.  The occasional awkwardness of rhyme this engenders is easily overlooked in light of Summers’ near-perfect melodic sensibilities.  When Life Gives You Lemons is not the best album you will hear all year, but it might be the one you most remember, and the one you keep returning to.  It’s musical comfort food with a positive message.  You’ll want to spend some real time with Jenn Summers.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Jenn Summers at or!/jennsummersmusic. When Life Gives You Lemons is available from the e-tailers below:
Amazon MP3                   iTunes

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