For those of you who have never been here before, let me tell you a bit about the Buffalo area. To begin with, Buffalo stands at the gates to the rust belt. It was a major manufacturing and port town for the Great Lakes at one time, standing at the Eastern Edge of Lake Erie and at the Southwestern corner of Lake Ontario. The terminus of the Erie Canal can be found here, although no one seems to be quite sure where as various communities each lay their own claims. It is a tremendous city for music and art, although these things are often well hidden from the national eye. What we are most known for, perhaps, are copious amounts of lake effect snow and chicken wings (also known as Buffalo wings).
The snow is a given, but that isn’t the whole story. If you live in Buffalo or the towns north of it, snow isn’t a huge problem. Our exposure isn’t much different, in general than anyone else living in New York State during winter. It’s the towns and suburbs south of Buffalo that get walloped repeatedly in winter, at least until Lake Erie freezes over.
What perhaps gets lost in all of this is that the people of Buffalo are good people. It’s a friendly place, and people here band together in times of adversity. That’s not to say we’re perfect. Buffalo has one of the lowest per-capita incomes in New York State, and has the distinction of being one of the most segregated cities in America. What we haven’t seen here is the sort of flat-out racial strife and division that has been on display elsewhere.
Buffalo creates an environment for its citizens that are full of personal opportunity. Music, arts, politics, professional sports and some wonderful regional food choices all come together to make Buffalo a unique place to live and grow. For a long time, the youth of Buffalo mostly left to seek their fortunes elsewhere, but now the tide is turning. Young people are beginning to flock here because of renewed efforts to revitalize the region. Tomorrow appears to be set to be much brighter than today.
Speaking of Buffalo area youth who left the area to find their fortunes, today’s artist is a Buffalo native who has gone on to bigger and better things in New York City. Jeneen Terrana is a singer/songwriter based in Queens with a golden voice and a heart to match. I had the pleasure of catching her live show a few summers back at a Relay for Life event in Geneva, NY. It was a light crowd in a small town, but Terrana held sway on stage. Her rendition of “O Sole Mio” was so stunning that the other artists who had played that night all came out from behind the stage to watch and listen. It was a moment.
Terrana has been busy the last several years, releasing several albums as well as hosting a cooking show, but something special has been going on with her music of late. Terrana’s talent as a songwriter has been blossoming, and has become as formidable as her vocal talents. Her latest EP, Fallin’ is a brief but substantial gem, a cornerstone in her development as an artist. The EP opens with “Calling My Bluff”, a brilliant little vignette written from the precipice of love. The song shows off Terrana’s vocal quality and color, as well as distinctive pop sensibility and polish. This is an intelligent pop ballad with a mid-tempo gush you simply cannot ignore. “Fallin’” is a heartfelt ballad that’s sweet but not saccharine. There’s a distinctive poetry here that manages to be artistic yet honest, and Terrana brings it all from the heart.
“No One Can Hurt You” is solid, a song of succor written with an attention to emotional detail that is stunning. The maturity that shows through here is compelling. “Fast Lane (On Your Way)” doubles down on this oeuvre, while proving Terrana’s penchant for catching melodies and vibrant pop songwriting. Fallin’ closes out with a live version of Terrana’s “Bloody Valentine” recorded at The Palladium. This is ear candy/filler for close fans, but it’s a solid close that gives you a sense of how Terrana’s sound carries in a live environment.
Fallin’ is too brief, but gives forth brilliant musical light while it shines. I’ve been aware of Jeneen Terrana for a number of years now and always had great respect for her work, but Fallin’ definitively highlights an artist who has taken her game to another level. Give it 5 stars.
Learn more at www.jeneenterrana.com. In the mean time, wet your whistle with a listen to "Fallin'" live.