CD Review: ‘Live At The Rutledge’ by Jenn Grinels

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I’m a horrible Jenn Grinels fan.  Despite how enamored I was with her stunning performance opening up for Carbon Leaf some time ago, or how her audience participation is the best I’ve witnessed since Frank Zappa, I’ve still managed to go forever and a day without owning a single one of her albums. That’s why when I noticed that she’d released a limited edition live album, I begged her for the opportunity to get my hands on one for review. In her graciousness, she shined down upon me in the form of a compact disc called Live At The Rutledge.

Now you might be saying, “That’s an awful lot of praise for an album you haven’t even listened to yet.”  You’re very right!  Please hold on while I remedy that…

Okay! I’m back with a thrilling conclusion for you: Jenn Grinels’ Live At The Rutledge is simply wonderful.  Her combination of finger-plucked guitar chords and soulful singing will melt you into your seat, reclining you for the duration of her set which will leave you laughing, crying, and mesmerized. Cradled by her anecdotes and warming banter, you don’t just get to know her by reading in-between the songs, but are won over by her charming personality. Her wit and humor shine through with a live audience and she molds the musical experience by her connection to those around her. By the end of the release, you might be just a little upset that you couldn’t have been there too.

“Who’s single?  Damnit!  You’re all in love?  Haha…I’m happy for you.”

I’ve found the artists that I gravitate to the strongest are those that I’ve discovered for myself. So, I have the difficult task of trying to help you discover a deserving, talented individual and making it as magical as the first time I witnessed her. I must admit, living up to her bringing half the audience onstage at my show to play backup hand-trumpets is a daunting task. It was a glorious event, and one that won me over. There are so many talented, deserving musicians out there that it takes a special kind of person with a flair for the unusual to capture my support. Jenn Grinels has that special flair for the unusual, which added to her amazing talent for songwriting, soulful singing, and refreshing sense of humor evokes smiles from all those who are lucky enough to catch her as she passes through.

Live At The Rutledge was recorded with those who attended the show in mind, as a way for them to hold onto that feeling they had long after the concert hall had emptied out. But it allows others of us to wander inside that moment in time and experience a degree of the magic. And I’ll tell you, there is magic to be felt here, whether it be the tongue in cheek “Don’t Wanna Be Happy,” the heartfelt “Can’t Stay Here,” or the Aretha Franklin classic “I Never Loved A Man,” sung as powerfully as by the mother of soul herself.  Unfortunately for some, this release is strictly physical in nature. Ms. Grinels has printed just 1000 copies of this event and judging from my hand-written #607 on the back of the case, they’re going quickly. For those of you who like acoustic music, powerful but intimate in nature, and the occasional funny story, I can’t recommend this release enough.  Hurry before the magic disappears for good.  You can’t have my copy!

 

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