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Monday, December 16, 2013

Stumbled over on Spotify: Jenny Scheinman

I don’t have much time for recommendation engines but I do like This Is My Jam. When you choose a tune it lists the other people who've chosen the same one. Then you can look at what else those people have chosen.

This is how I came to hear Jenny Scheinman. She’s best known for playing violin with people like Bill Frisell and arranging for people like Lucinda Williams, but I’ve been playing this 2008 solo album a lot over the last week. Her other records are mainly instrumental, but this one’s vocal. She’s got a proper voice, which doesn’t sound as glib and used as it might do if she vocalised for a living. She favours tunes in a folk/blues idiom like “I Was Young When I Left Home” and "Miss Collins" which is based on "Louis Collins" by Mississsippi John Hurt.

The record gets better towards the end, which is always a good sign, with “The Green”, which is the (presumably true) story of the singer’s aunt who just up and disappeared one day; an attractively rackety version of The Platters’ “Twilight Time”, her own “Skinny Man”, which owes something to Lucinda Williams and has got just the same catchy slur, and finally her versions of "Johnsburg, Illinois" by Tom Waits. I like it a lot. If I see a copy I'll buy it.