Aug 28, 2011

Jennifer Hall - In This - CD Review

In This - Jennifer Hall – CD Review

Jennifer Hall has a background in musical theater and has performed, since the age of 12, in over 20 musicals up through high school (including Annie, Oliver, Fiddler On The Roof, Aida, Into The Woods etc.). She also loves jazz and blues and listened to lots of Ella Fitzgerald, Bonnie Raitt, and Billie Holiday. Other favorite artists include Jeff Buckley, old soul singers, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Wilco, and Radiohead amongst others. This well-rounded and eclectic taste for music both old and new has clearly shaped Jennifer’s songwriting and vocals.

I was able to catch a glimpse of Jennifer’s talent and a foreshadowing of what is destined to be an exciting CD release party when I found myself last minute at Uncommon Ground during a singer-songwriter showcase night in July. That night, Jennifer sang a duet with a fellow singer-songwriter, Jessica Robbins. I like to think I have the ability to “discover talent” and if I am right, Jennifer Hall will become a known name soon. She is already securing gigs at Schubas and Lincoln Hall (and they are picky about their bookings). I have not personally met Jennifer Hall yet but am looking forward to her CD release party at Schubas on 9/3/11 and the opportunity to see her mesmerize us with her exceptional vocals during her live show.

Jennifer’s debut release, In This, features eleven diverse tracks that emphasize Jennifer’s versatility, vocal style, and her years of honing her skills as a singer-songwriter. Her writing is very dynamic ranging anywhere from folk, Broadway musical, jazz ballad, blues, and pop. The first song on the new release, “I’ll Follow” is boldly sung a cappella. Brave for anyone, even a veteran singer, to do. This sparse vocal as well has the second track, “Green and Blue” reminded me of a talented ex-Chicago jazz singer, (admittedly one that I adore and previously studied under) Jackie Allen, who also came to write her own songs and performed in Chicago and elsewhere for many years before moving to Indiana. “Green and Blue” is beautifully written and sung. At first listen to In This, you can identify Jennifer as being experienced in musical theater. In particular, the third track “When we were good” and sixth track “Forget my name” could both easily be used as Broadway numbers. The second thought I had when listening to my favorite track, “Young Things” was: is Jennifer related in any way to Bonnie Raitt? This song, through use of a jazzy, bluesy vocal, shows passion, depth and the creativity that underscore Jennifer’s talents. “Oceans”, an outstanding well-written ballad, reveals Jennifer’s vulnerability. I might actually cry when she sings it live. Jennifer had a long list of favorite singers and bands listed on her Facebook page, but left out a favorite of mine that she must surely identify with, Brandi Carlile. “Like I lie to you” both vocally and instrumentally could be Brandi’s.

All of the comparisons and similarities made in this review are a testament to Jennifer Hall’s talent and ability to morph her vocals into different genres of music. In This is a great first release that gives us the highlights of what Jennifer is capable of. Each song has its own flavor and she definitely does not demonstrate the “every song sounds the same” style that many songwriters fall prey too. I am looking forward to hearing more from Jennifer and seeing what direction her claim in the music arena takes. She certainly should remain “In This” and stake her claim.

If you want more on Jennifer Hall, and you should, check out, (coming soon), the FB page: or the band camp site: Upcoming CD release party is at Schubas on Saturday, 9/3/11 ($10 cover). Don’t miss it!

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