Amy Lennard

Independent release, 2004


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


A lot of music makes it into my CD player... and a lot of music goes right back out. What makes the difference? Sometimes all it takes is one good verse. So it was with Amy Lennard.

This five-song EP -- an appetizer for a promised 2006 full-length -- starts strong and never lets up. Over rhythmic acoustic strums, Lennard eases into the sublimely well-crafted "I Wish It Were Mine": "My best friend got a brand new boyfriend / He brings her flowers, he brings her chocolate / He always picks her up on time / And I wish he were mine." The words are strong and clear and sung without a hint of jealousy or embarrassment -- only a deep, unapologetic longing. Soon after, the band kicks in behind her and Lennard sails through several more verses rife with a rich, subtle brew of good intentions and green-eyed undercurrents ("I really want her to be happy," she sings over and over towards the close, until, by dropping a single word, she reveals the underlying, greater truth: "I really want to be happy").my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Lennard -- who self-produced this disc -- describes her sound as "New York City with a twang," and a hint of twang does show up on "El Paso," where she sings of wide open spaces and adds a touch of steel to the mix toward the end of the track. But really, it's just terrific singer-songwriter material, well-written, well-arranged and full of effective and affecting emotional shadings. In her bio, Lennard also references Lucinda Williams as an influence, and you can hear it in the delicate rawness of lines like "I love the way when we talked / It felt like I was singing inside… Now my heart's in El Paso / 'Cause that's where you are."

"Holy Night" features a steady-building arrangement that adds instrumental texture with each memorable verse: "Turquiose water, purple sky / I feel the breeze and close my eyes / I can taste the salt that's in the air / In your mouth and everywhere." It's a song about fulfillment - emotional, physical, spiritual -- and it's flat-out wonderful. Built around a smoky r & b riff, "Please Don't" is a different kind of sensuous -- flirty, conflicted and maybe a little desperate: "Please don't look at me that way / It's driving me crazy… And I want to take you home / But this won't work, it's just not right."

Closing this brief glimpse into Lennard's world is the bittersweet breakup coda "I'm Free," which alternates between verses that are almost spoken -- in which Lennard's low, severe tones reminded me of Patti Smith -- and soaring choruses with a Sheryl Crow feel to them. "Now I'm free," she sings, "And I don't like the way it feels." In real life, you can get what you want (or thought you wanted) and still not be happy.

And that's the core of this EP's appeal. Lennard nails the essence of everyday emotions -- the inner conflicts, the flashes of joy and sorrow and regret and desire, the fundamental uncertainty of anything in life but the moment you're inhabiting. It's real life, set to music and rendered in Lennard's rich, versatile voice. Highly recommended.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2005 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.