Sunday, August 5, 2012
Album Review: "Scars on My Heart" by Jillaine
In 2011, jazz songstress Jillaine released "Scars on My Heart", following her 2009 debut, "You Really Meant It". "Scars on My Heart" features 12 new songs, nine written by Jillaine, and is a very worthy sophomore effort.
I admire an artist that explores different styles and techniques. While it may not work exactly as expected ("Chris Gaines", anyone?), respect points are always earned for the effort. With "Scars", Jillaine moved from the piano/guitar jazz sound into some unabashed rockers. "You've Lost", in particular, is a superbly written and performed song backed by a rock beat and featuring a well-done guitar shred. The song, written by Erik Chaston, is a strong in-your-face message, spelling out in no uncertain terms the current state of an ex-relationship. "Confusion", "Hole You Dug", and "Doubts" also stretch Jillaine away from the jazz-club sound and into more edgy, rock-infused cuts.
The strongest songs here, though, are the performances in her home genre of jazz. Jillaine's amazing voice is perfectly suited for the spotlight of jazz, where it can shine as the focal point, complemented and supported by the instrumental accompaniment. Where Pat Benatar, Chrissie Hynde, and (yep) Lady Gaga have mastered the art of dominant lead vocals in rock songs, Jillaine has comparable talent in her comfort zone, jazz.
The title performance, "Scars on My Heart", is a highlight of the album. Jillaine sings with a subtle strength, interpreting this song in her middle and upper registers. Sam Jones on guitar and bass and Ryan Flores on drums provide perfect musical accompaniment.
"Strong and Sure" is beautifully performed. It is smooth, restrained, and soft, yet consurrently strong, with a deliberate, growing intensity through the song.
The album closes with, in my opinion, the two strongest performances. On "This Time" Jillaine explores her range, strategically incorporating the lows into the higher-register themes, with superb results. Craig Adler is stunning on guitar and bass.
"Doubts R&B" is an extended reworking of "Doubts" from earlier in the album. It goes back to basics - vocals and piano - with simply perfect results, and gets my vote for the best performance on the album. It is a shining moment in all aspects - vocal and instrumental performance (Craig Adler returns on piano), lyrics, and arrangement. Love, love, love it. It is a great way to bring the album to a close - the listener is left wanting more.
"Scars on My Heart" is another strong effort from Jillaine, who has become one of my favorite new artists. She's given us variety, stepping into different musical arenas, while reassuring us that she can return to the stronghold of jazz at any time and blow us away with her performance.
Still to come: "Jazzy Christmas To You", Jillaine's 2011 Christmas album, "As American as Jazz", a 2012 release of patriotic/Americana songs, and a promised upcoming 2012 Christmas release. Two Christmas albums in two years - that's my kind of artist!
Jillaine on Facebook
"Scars on My Heart" was provided for review by the artist.