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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Who is Jennifer Daniels?
She's a modern-day folk singer-songwriter who hails from Lookout Mountain,
Tennessee. I don't think I've seen a regional singer and songwriter
who is as honest with a lyrical and musical style since a concert I saw
by the Pozo Seco Singers (giving away my age with that comment!) in the
mid-'60s. I've seen her in concert twice in Columbia, South Carolina, with
her accompanist/producer/husband Jeff Neal. She's been on the road
for about four years, and you are welcome to regard Dive and Fly
as her first full-length project if you wish to do so, although she has
Daniels' music can be compared
to Gordon Lightfoot, stylistically and lyrically, although her style is
much more rock-edged. I might surprise Jennifer by making a parallel for
the title track of this project to "The
"Planting Shoes" ("East Tennessee")
and "Babylon" are beautifully introspective songs, featuring Jennifer's
acoustic guitars and haunting lyrics, looking at Union County and Babylon.
Absolutely beautiful songs. The
The full band follows nicely with "Daylight Runnin'" and "December," with a very sweet segue to "Try to Find Me," which has the Lightfoot sound (not quite; there are neat breaks within the acoustic guitars to an electric sound).
Many of Jennifer's lyrics are odes to God. "Try to Find Me," "River," and "Widening Sky" are love songs inspired by Jennifer's love for God. They are her praise and worship songs. From "River," featuring only Jennifer's voice, guitar and cello:
You could let me dance down inside your mindIn contrast to the sweet sounds, the crowd-pleaser from this project is "Day to Live," originally from Jennifer's An Invitation EP. Daniels definitely pleases with her vocal style of "we'll be feeding fishes by the sea," with her voice climbing uphill in a quick pace.
Not exactly a hidden track (it's not "advertised" on the liner notes), Daniels renders an incredibly beautiful a capella version of "Danny Boy," just after "Widening Sky," in which she salutes her own Lookout Mountain.
Dive and Fly exhibits the fact that this new singer-songwriter is much more than a Southeastern regional talent, on a much broader plane than Canadian Gordon Lightfoot or the U.K.'s Gerry Rafferty. Watch for the name of Jennifer Daniels very soon, since she's on her way to surpassing any comparisons I can make here at The Tollbooth
Olin Jenkins 04/28/2001.
Singer-songwriter Jennifer Daniels is back with her second full-length CD, Dive & Fly. With her unique brand of edgy folk, Daniels takes her craft to yet another level, with a more fleshed out sound than her previous efforts.
Dive & Fly is an album about hopes and dreams, about reaching out for more than just our everyday, mundane lives. Daniels speaks for all of us when she talks about the "feeling that we're made for more than we get." She says the album also explores the grief that goes along with her "loneliness and unfaithfulness."
For those unfamiliar with Daniels and her music, she can best be compared to artists as diverse as Ani DiFranco, Joni Mitchell, Suzanne Vega, and Sarah McLachlan. In fact, it is her voice that is the most impressive instrument on the disc. She has amazing vocal range, both smooth and powerful, that matches up nicely with her well-crafted and literate lyric arrangements.
The album starts out with the Celtic-flavored title track, one of the more impressive songs on the disc. This is followed by the near-anthemic "Ohio," which first appeared on her last full-length disc, Fists of Flood. These are followed by several more traditional "folk" songs, "Planting Shoes" and "Babylon."
Other songs that stand out are "Daylight Running," "He Dances," and "Day to Live." ("Day to Live" and another song, "Widening Sky" were originally done on the EP An Invitation.) A touching moment comes with "Try to Find Me," a song about attempted reconciliation within a strained father/daughter relationship. The album then wraps up with a "hidden" track," an a cappella version of the traditional Irish folk song "Danny Boy."
For this listener, the strongest moments on this disc are the more upbeat, full-band tunes, but the quieter, more acoustic efforts are sure to please fans of that style of music as well.
And if you check out the
liner notes you'll appreciate some of the musicians who show up on the
album. Former Vigilantes of Love members Newton Carter and Dave LaBruyere
lend a hand, while Daniels' husband, Jeff Neal, weighs in with guitars
Ken Mueller 5/22/2001