Review by Andy Hawes for MPM Americana
Country/Americana artist Lauren Jenkins returns with her new album ‘Miles on Me’, delivered in three parts as is slowly becoming a new normal in the music world due to the demands of the streaming public who seem to want a constant drip-feed of new material from their favourite artists.
Lauren Jenkins is another of those young female artists who choose to inhabit the Americana end of the Country music spectrum, producing achingly real and genuine music that sits somewhat outside of the corporate mainstream of modern Nashville.
Her music sits comfortably alongside artists such as Ashley McBryde and Morgan Wade (see reviews of their excellent current albums elsewhere on this site.) Her voice is utterly exquisite, with both a delicate vulnerability and an undercurrent of strength and purpose. You won’t get any of the RnB influenced vocal histrionics of some of her more mainstream contemporaries, but when the music is this good, you don’t need any of that going on.
‘Miles On Me Part One’ is only four tracks long, but the amount of quality crammed into these four tracks is something else entirely. Lauren’s previous album ‘No Saint’ is very good indeed, but this is a step up even from that and these four tracks will certainly whet appetites for the remaining tracks coming on parts 2 and 3!
Opening track ‘Like You Found Me’ is a superb hook-laden Springsteen influenced piece. It’s probably as ‘pop’ as Lauren Jenkins will ever get, but having said that, it’s only ‘pop’ in its gorgeous melodies, as the backing music is full of chiming layers of slightly lo-fi Americana guitars and strummed acoustics.
When the vocal harmonies kick in during the monstrous chorus you just can’t help but grin – it may not have the happiest lyrical theme, but it still has a massively infectious good-time vibe. If there was any justice in the world this would be a huge hit worldwide.
‘She’s A Star’ starts off with an odd bass riff, before kicking in with the sort of piano and guitar combination that wouldn’t be out of place on a late 70s Fleetwood Mac album. Lauren really purrs the vocal in this one, almost like a jazz singer in a smoky cellar bar.
The slow to mid-paced tempo, the space in the production, the delicate hooks and the slide guitars all combine majestically to create a track that oozes class, building to a beautiful crescendo mid-song, before dropping back, only to build back up with some more impassioned vocals in the final chorus. A stunning track that showcases exactly what Lauren Jenkins is all about.
‘Miles on Me’ is a real stunner and this reviewer’s favourite track on the EP. This wonderful mid-paced track is chock-full of beautiful melodies and has a production to die for.
There are more Fleetwood Mac influences in the beautiful electric piano work that sits behind the layers of guitars and the superb male harmony vocals (courtesy of David Ramirez) elevate the delicious chorus into the stratosphere. There’s a real ache in the vocals on this as Lauren purrs ‘You’re just another set of scars I didn’t need…put some miles on me’ in the payoff at the end of the chorus. As close to perfection as you’ll get!
This beautiful EP concludes with ‘My Own Advice’ which is another slow to mid-paced track with more of those delicious purring vocals. Like the rest of the EP, the lyrical themes aren’t exactly the happiest.
You really feel that Lauren Jenkins is living more than her fair share of heartbreak and emotional difficulty, but from these things come great music and this is another cracker. The production is perfect on this one as well, with the whole vibe of the music echoing the sentiment of the lyric perfectly.
I cannot praise this EP enough really. It’s absolutely stunning from start to finish. Lyrically, it’s not the most comfortable listen – you won’t find any twee Country-Pop love songs on here – but it’s real and it’s genuine, with a bit of dirt under its manicured fingernails. The production is perfect.
The guitar and keyboard sounds are slightly lo-fi and beautifully vintage, with an exquisite warmth that matches the melancholy of the lyrics to perfection. Lauren Jenkins’ vocals are also a pure delight; smoky, sultry, melancholic, vulnerable yet strong and utterly beautiful. Fans of the Americana end of the Country spectrum who love artists who keep it real should check this out immediately as it’s utterly brilliant! I for one cannot wait for parts 2 and 3!
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