Friday, May 7, 2010

Jennie Arnau - Chasing Giants

Jennie Arnau creates a unique blend of New York-nurtured South Carolina-born Grassroots rock.  Her original blend of Americana, Alt-Country and rock along with her bold and bittersweet voice have lead more than one critic to describe her as a cross between Neil Young and Martina McBride. It’s a sly underground sound that’s born of urban grit and rowdy southern sensibilities and perfectly suits this native South Carolina singer.  It’s not a voice that has gone unnoticed either. Chuck Eddy of the Village Voice praises her husky uplift and rhythmic wallop rarely heard in the female-folkie field,” while No Depression raves “Jennie’s voice is strong without sacrificing its femininity. Singer Magazines goes on to spotlight Jennie’s ability to “pierce your heart one moment, then turn right around and calm your spirit the next.” 

CHASING GIANTS, released on April 13th on MRI, is the follow up to Jennie’s 2007 release, MT. PLEASANT, which Joe Levy of Rolling Stone hailed as “her most fully realized set of songs yet.  If you care about the struggle for love and happiness - and who among us doesn't? -- This one's for you.”  

Determined to find a producer who would understand her alchemy of grassroots Americana and indie rock, Jennie enlisted the help of Trina Shoemaker (Sheryl Crow, Queens of the Stone Age, Emmylou Harris). The two, along with recording engineer Phil Palazzolo (Neko Case, The New Pornographers), quickly began work on CHASING GIANTS. 

“It sounds strange,” says Jennie, “but when I went into the studio with Trina, I really didn’t know my voice. But she showed me that I knew my music better than anyone and that I had a clear vision. I learned a lot and she gave me the confidence I needed to make this album.” 

Jennie approached tracks like “Beautiful Life” with this newfound confidence. “It’s the happiest song I’ve written,” she laughs. “I saw this fun outdoor hippie show in Austin and it made me realize that life can be really great and simple if you let it.”  This attitude also shows on “The Sharp Things” which shows how “the simplest things are the things that can make you the happiest and hurt the most.” Stories abound on CHASING GIANTS but ultimately, it’s the uniqueness of Jennie’s explosive voice that truly defines each of these songs, marking an indie debut as compelling as that of Patty Griffin or Ryan Adams.  
 
From the yearning and hopeful journey of “Bouncing Ball” to the playfulness of “For the Winter,” Jennie smartly embraces both the subtle artistry of alt-country and indie sensibility.  She’s not afraid of the ache in her vocals and her lyrics; in fact, Jennie says that it’s that very conflict of her multi-dimensional life, her loves and her losses over the last years that have fueled the “openness” and honesty of CHASING GIANTS
For a woman who grew up in the foothills of Appalachia, but who has thrived in New York’s downtown music scene, Jennie has long explored the curious dichotomy of her artistic temperament. But she sees CHASING GIANTS as the “coming of age” album she has long sought to record. 

“I’m really so proud of this album,” says Jennie, sole songwriter of CHASING GIANTS. “I’ve returned a little bit more to my country roots.  I think it’s modern but has a more organic feel and although I’m still a singer/songwriter it stretches the blending of various music styles.” 

Jennie’s core band includes drummer Alan Lerner (Zen Tricksters), guitarist Greg McMullen (Chris Whitley), keyboardist Pete Levin (Blind Boys of Alabama) and bassist Jason Hogue.  CHASING GIANTS special guests include Al Schnier (moe.), Noam Pikelny (Leftover Salmon, Punch Brothers), Kevin Kinney (Drivin N Cryin) and Skip Ward (Steve Martin).
 


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