Perpetual Change: CD Review, Mood Swings by Jennifer Leitham

| Feb 15, 2016

jenniferleitham4It’s kind of dangerous territory when a reviewer becomes a fan of some of the artists he or she is supposed to objectively review. Anyone who has actually read this column over the years has probably figured out that I’m a huge fan of instrumental music and jazz. Therefore, I’m going to have to say that I can’t be anything but totally subjective about Jennifer Leitham’s newest project, Mood Swings.

In every one of my reviews, even the shorter “new music” reviews, I always point out what I consider to be the outstanding tracks on each project. Even projects that just don’t come across as being all that cohesive, even somewhat sloppy at times, always seem to have at least one or two cuts that are quite good, in any genre. In the case of Mood Swings, I just can’t do that. I can’t manage to find any single track that stands out. They’re all incredibly well done and the entire project stands out.

True to her past form, Jennifer uses members of her trio…Randy Drake on drums and pianist Andy Langham…in the studio. She also brings on board Jeff Linsky on ukulele on the tune Don’t You Ever, and guitarist Jamie Findlay on You Won’t See Me and Glad Tidings. The project is produced by Jennifer and of the 8 tracks, three are Leitham originals.

You can tell an artist has reached a level of confidence (some might call it maturity) by some of the chances they occasionally take. In the case of Jennifer Leitham’s Mood Swings, she opens the project with one of her original tunes, Riverside Stomp. This is one of her vocal tracks and I have to say that the confidence she’s gained as a singer comes across immediately on this opening cut. But that is not her best vocal here by far. Other excellent vocal tracks include Don’t You Ever (another Leitham composition), My Heart Had Wings, which is another original and is a very dark sounding “mood swing” for sure, the Allie Wrabel Herb Magidsun tune The Masquerade Is Over and Lennon/McCartney’s You Won’t See Me. My Heart Had Wings is her most dynamic vocal on the project, but the real growth as a vocalist is shown in Masquerade. Very well done.

Jennifer Leitham

Jennifer Leitham

I’m a real Beatles fan and to hear Jennifer Leitham do a jazz version of You Won’t See Me was impressive. It’s hard for any artist to cover a Beatles song…any Beatles song. Beatles music is so well known that even the more obscure album tracks that weren’t radio hits are easily identifiable. That makes it easy to tell when the artist has strayed from the melody and consequently butchers the tune. No so here. While Jennifer definitely makes this a jazz tune, the melody stays intact, even during the extended instrumental portion that of course includes some great bass moments that work with the melody.

The fully instrumental tracks on the project are Cascade Of The Waterfalls (Clare Fisher, Alex Matheiros), guitarist Findlay’s Glad Tidings, and Tricotism by Oscar Petiford. The Petiford composition has the best bass work from Jennifer on this particular project.

So, I warned you…I haven’t been objective at all with this review. I love this CD and would recommend it to anyone, jazz fan or not. The playing by Jennifer, her trio mates and the other musicians is incredible and as far as I’m concerned, her vocal work and the Beatles tune alone are good reason to obtain Mood Swings for your collection. Jennifer Leitham is one of those artists who just gets better and more focused with each successive project. Always a pleasure to hear new music from Ms. Leitham.

Check out Jennifer’s website. She’s also on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Her music is available through her website as well as through major outlets such as Amazon.com.

[ Part 1 of an interview with Jennifer Leitham ran on TGF in December. Today we have Part 2 of that interview thanks to the good people at YourTrueGenderPodcast.]

ALSO THIS MONTH

Rev. Yolanda

Rev. Yolanda has announced that she will be appearing on Feb. 21st in a family friendly show entitled Church With A Two Drink Minimum, at The Sidewalk Café, 94 Ave. A at 6th St., NYC. This is an interfaith event which features Rev. Yolanda, Rev. Glen Ganaway and The Bearded Lady Band. Last month’s event was cancelled due to winter storm Jonas, but Rev. Yolanda assures us this month’s gig will go on as planned. For more information, please check out her website.

Georgie Jessup

Georgie Jessup would like to introduce readers to the Inside Out Radio collective, which airs every Tuesday on WPFW 89.3 FM, out of Washington DC. She has appeared on this show earlier this month, but I didn’t get the information in time for the deadline. However, since the show definitely is LGBT friendly, and helps to inform listeners regarding issues of the greater community as well as the trans community (not to mention the music community found therein…), I felt that it’s worth mentioning. It’s also worth mentioning that Georgie will be playing at The Woodshop on April 23rd. For venue location, please email mjbutler1@verison.net. Visit Georgie’s website.

NEW MUSIC

Moth by Chairlift

mothChairlift is a duo made up of multi-instrumentalists and song writers Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly. Moth is their third album, and while it’s completely a techno driven project, it does show some diversity that this particular genre is not usually known for. Polachek’s voice can float between airy to full on in-your-face strength at times.

The single from this project is the tune ChaChing, with a great follow-up called Romeo. Some of the best examples of Polachek’s more airy vocal quality can be found on the project’s opening tune, the sparse sounding Look Up, and the aforementioned Romeo. Probably the most emotional tune, in tunes of vocals and instrumentation, is Crying In Public.

All in all, Moth by Chairlift is something of a compilation of excellent vocal performances wrapped in techno synth sounds that can vary between sparse and full strength.

Chairlift will be touring through the middle of April. Visit their website for more information, as well as some very interesting videos. Also on Facebook, Twitter and instagram.

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Category: Music

About Pam Degroff: Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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