Peas and Collards – Jennyanykind
MoRisen Records 888
One doesn’t need a band biography to tell Jennyanykind hails from the South.
Their music encompasses country twang, Southern blues, jazz, rock and a
splash of psychedelia. With all of the above elements, it is difficult to
pin a label on just what genre they fall into. Of course, each song doesn’t
hold all of these sounds at one given time. Rather, separate songs seem to
be pulled from separate genres. While some bands do this and come off
sounding like idiots trying to find their niche, Jennyanykind pulls it off.
What works for the trio is their Bob Dylan-like sound: Michael Holland’s
vocals stir up memories of the singer in his youthful days, proof that
musical history indeed repeats itself. Along the same lines, Rolling Stones
guitars and Lynyrd Skynyrd melodies prove that the band has definitely done
their homework. They began in 1991 as a grunge alternative outfit, perhaps
because that was what was hot at the time. But with age comes sensibility,
and today they have gone back to their roots, creating a much better sound.
However, after giving Jennyanykind’s eighth album a few whirls, Peas and
Collards may leave your musical taste buds a bit unsatisfied. The blues
rock songs won’t leave you in tears, but they drag on, overstaying their
welcome. Most songs clock in over five minutes, two of them stretch to over
eight. While this is the only complaint, it’s a big one. For example, the
titular track drones on for eight minutes, talking of peas, collards, God
and money, though doing so with soul. The opening track, "Lemon Lite Blues"
is so musically catchy that you won’t have the patience to wait for the
lyrics, which come over a minute into it. Notable are the simple percussion
beats and guitar riffs, reminiscent of the late 1970s. If the songs were cut
down even a minute or two, the album would be much more enjoyable.
On the bright side – if blues have a bright side "Rainy Night Blues" is
something that could be heard in a dark, smoky, tiny club. Lyricless, it is
everything that makes the blues the blues: the strumming of the upright bass which Tom Royal makes his own throughout the album – tapping cymbals and
wallowing guitars make this the album’s standout track. With the use of a
ragtime piano, Jennyanykind has a hit with the Western vibe on "Hot Soup."
One wouldn’t think that a song about an appetizer would be so, well,
appetizing, but the band definitely makes it work. Holland croons, "Hot soup
put it on the table/Hot soup satisfies the ladle." This hot soup satisfies
more than just the ladle for sure. "Im on the Run" conjures up images of a
mellowed out psychedelia, the keyboard bouncing amongst Holland’s
semi-spoken lyrics and slow percussion. It is the perfect end to the album,
light and airy, with Holland sounding more like Dylan than on any of the
previous songs on Peas and Collards.
After their brief stint on Elektra Records, as well as Yep Roc, the trio is
on the indie circuit, currently calling MoRisen Records their home. They
have bounced around quite a bit during their 12 plus year tenure together,
but with their raw and polished sound, perhaps this is right where they
should stay — just as long as they cut their song lengths down a bit.