Jenny Owen Youngs’ big break was landing her song “Fuck was
I” on Weeds,
which led to a re-release of her debut, Batten the Hatches, on Nettwerk.
(Covering Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” probably didn’t hurt spread the word, either.)
This new outing finds Youngs expanding her folk-pop sound significantly, adding
in all those touches that singer-songwriters like to add on sophomore albums
with bigger budgets: horns, strings, layers of instruments and glossier
That gloss works well on “Led to the Sea,” the obvious first
single with thumping bass and a reach-for-the-rafters refrain that’ll bounce
around your brain all day. The arrangements are nice, too, but Youngs has a
tendency to let the strings convey all the feeling. When restrained, she sounds
a little bored with her own voice, and when in all-worked-up mode, like the
Waitsy romper “Clean Break,” it’s a tough sell. Too, all the genre jumping from
Americana (“Last Person”) to ’60s pop (“Here is a Heart”) and the aping of
cohorts like Feist (“Nighty-Night”) and Thao Nguyen (“Start + Stop”) creates a
package that’s more indistinct than diverse.
Still, it’s pleasant background music, which means she’s
probably still perfect for TV soundtracks.
Standout Tracks: “Led to the Sea,” “What Beats Within”