Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Jennifer Daniels

Did you ever hear a recording where you think to yourself the music is "good", but that's all. You probably wouldn't buy the CD or seek out the music otherwise. If it ends up in your iTunes library, okay. If it doesn't, that's also okay.

Did you ever see that same artist in concert and your preconceived notions are literally blown away and your opinion turns 180 degrees? Such is the case with singer/songwriter Jennifer Daniels and, I have to say, it was the best $10 I've spent for a concert in a long time. Why does this happen -- that a live concert can change your mind so abruptly? A number of reasons, I think.

The artist. They have to have the talent, obviously. But it's more than that. They have to have an innate sense of connecting with the audience through their craft. The venue. The right setting is key to a good musical experience. When was the last time you saw a singer/songwriter play a stadium? Or U2 play a 200 seat club? The mix. That is, can the person running the sound system maximize the artist's sound to the venue. Can everyone in every seat hear every note clearly as well as the particular nuances of the song? It's live. Something could go wrong at any moment. And when someone is totally laying it on the line, making music for the sheer joy and thrill of it, and then something DOESN'T go wrong, well, I for one, am impressed.

Jennifer Danilels And when ALL of the above come together, that's when true magic happens. I freely admit not knowing hardly anything about Jennifer Daniels a week ago. Come to learn, she has three CD's, but before you get any of them, as soon as you finish reading this post, head over to iTunes and download her podcasts. They are surprisingly high-quality and these four songs will give you a great sense of what I'm describing as they capture her live sound perfectly. These can be easily trimmed so you just get the mp3 itself.

Start with August 2007 for what's likely the best Beatles cover you've never heard. Strawberry Fields Forever is stripped bare and paired with just her voice and electric guitar. It's hauntingly beautiful.

Stay recorded in Kentucky at The Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour is from the January 2006 podcast. Daniels' energy literally bursts through your speakers. Her husband Jeff gives just the right touch accompanying on guitar.

There's just a sample of the song Every Single Day on the June 2007 podcast. It's probably got the most poignant lyrics of any song I've ever heard. Sung with exquisite tenderness, this song is a serious contender to be played at every wedding or anniversary ever - it's that good.

Dive & Fly from July 2007 is such a perfect song. With its achy yet somehow soaring electric guitar background meshed with acoustic guitar and Daniels' gorgeous voice, you can almost picture the serene hilly setting near Lookout Mountain where this song was written. There's an overriding peacefulness about Dive & Fly that has you hanging on every note and mentally transports you to a calmer place.

Jennifer Daniels - Music You Need to Hear