Jennifer Leonhardt "Minstrel's Daughter" (Grassroots Records ,2009)
experiments from an Austin kitchen
Fort Worth, TX native Jennifer Leonhardtís 5th album was recorded around her kitchen table in Austin. It sounds very much like the sessions went on long into the night which, although the finished product is high quality, has resulted in a mixed affair.
The opening two tracks 'Neruda' and 'Dido' are both cello heavy, 'Make it the Mountain' and the title track 'Minstrelís Daughter' feel like improvised jams. This continues throughout, just as you settle into a style, or a sound, or a feel, Leonhardt changes it as if she is daring you to get comfortable.
Yet for all the changing styles, the distant vocals, the violin that sounds as if it was recorded whilst walking around the house rather than sitting around the table, the standout track is the albums most basic. If Leonhardt were cooking in her kitchen rather than recording, 'More Rope' would be the dish she presents to impress new friends and the one that old ones always ask for. It is a master class in mournful music; a simple arrangement coupled with emotional lyrics.
Leonhardt certainly has a great album or two in her, but the sheer variety of 'Minstrelís Daughter' makes for an interesting rather than an exceptional one.
Date review added: Thursday, September 10, 2009
Reviewer: John Hawes
Related web link: Artist's website