Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Jigsaw Heart Shows Off Eden Brent's Country Side

In 2008, I called Eden Brent’s album Mississippi Number One, “ is a stunning recording of blues, jazz and soul… .“ I also observed that “[a]s a singer she sings with the authority of the late Esther Phillips, if a bit less nasal, while displaying the sassiness of a Denise LaSalle and a bit of Bobby Gentry’s country soul.” I was similarly impressed by next album Ain’t Got No Troubles, noting it “mixes a marvelous pianist and vocalist with strong material, sympathetic backing and varied, imaginative programming resulting in a terrific recording that should appeal to blues and roots music fans.” Eden Brent’s latest album, Jigsaw Heart (Yellow Dog Records) is another recording that  displays perhaps more of her country side as a performer.

Like Ain’t Got No Troubles, this was produced by Colin Linden who also contributes guitar (and mandolin on one track). Some of the others playing behind Eden on this include John Dymond on bass, Gary Craig on drums, Dan Dugmore on pedal steel, Kenzie Wetz on fiddle. Brent’s originals are mixed with interpretations of songs from Joan Armatrading, Billy Taylor & Dick Dallas, and Jimmy Phillips amongst others.

The very first two numbers illustrate the range of music on Jigsaw Heart as well as the extent of Ms. Brent’s talent and artistry.Better This Way has her singing about leaving today but the relationship ended sometime before, so lets raise a glass to toast the past.. This is a classic country waltz that has a bit of a swamp pop feel as well. Everybody Already Knows in contrast is a romp about the whole town knowing Eden and her lover are messing round, with some wonderfully rollicking piano that evokes Jerry Lee Lewis (although perhaps not quite as wild). Both are superbly sung and played and display her considerable gift as a songwriter. The title tracks another wonderful lyric as she asks her cowboy angel whether he has what it takes to un-break her heart.

In addition to these wonderful originals she provides her own take on Joann Armatrading’s Opportunity, with a vocal that suggests Bobby Gentry. Another noted cover is the Billy Taylor- Dick Dallas penned I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, which was inspired by Nina Simone’s classic rendition of this. Its a good performance with backing singers, although I would love to hear Eden perform this just with her piano.

Jigsaw Heart is a superb recording. Eden Brent has a range as a pianist, singer and songwriter comparable to the late Charlie Rich. Like Rich she brings complete authority to renditions of blues, country and soul. I look forward to hearing more from Eden Brent and her continual musical growth.

I received my review copy from Yellow Dog Records. Here is a video of a interview and performance by Eden.

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