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Jenny Van West has "Happiness to Burn" on new album

Photo by Matt Pink
Jenny Van West is releasing her second, full-length album this month - "Happiness to Burn."
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ALBUM REVIEW: Happiness to Burn by Jenny Van West (independent) 2018

With a compelling mix of styles ranging from folk to swing to country and soft-rock, singer/songwriter Jenny Van West has been spinning quite a bit in my office of late. The album? Happiness to Burn. And who doesn’t have an extra bit of that, eh?

Recording these 10 songs out at Buddhaland studio in Los Angeles with producer Shane Alexander (who also played guitar and sang on a number of tracks), Van West’s singing talents (a mix of Dar Williams and Lucinda Williams) were allowed to really shine, particularly on tracks like the rockabilly strut of “45” and the folk-train-fun of “Twenty-Seven Dollars.”

And then there is the opener, the jazzy title track that demonstrates the musical abilities of Jackson Browne sideman and piano player Carl Byron. And the Portland, Maine-based Van West gets more serious on tracks like “Live in a New Way” which is addressing the Baltimore riots over the horrific death of Freddie Gray, at the hands of police, in 2015.

Ted Russell Kamp's bass (he's a favorite of ours, solo and with Shooter Jennings) helps open the thoughtful ballad "Can't Have You Now" while the late-night, romantic "Embers" closes out this strong, independent album from a true, songwriting and singing talent.

Each song just buzzes and shines as each instrument and voice is given a chance in the spotlight, without overwhelming the listener.

And as a side note, but no less important, Jenny Van West is also just a solid human being, founding the Maine Immigrant Musical Instrument Project, helping musically-inclined immigrants in getting exposure and on stage. It's a real cool thing on her part, promoting cross-cultural musicians in her town. 

Happiness to Burn is expected to be released April 20, 2018.


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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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