Eden Brent – Jigsaw Heart | Album Review

edenbrentcdEden Brent – Jigsaw Heart

Yellow Dog Records – 2014


 12 tracks; 48 minutes

IBC solo winner in 2006, Eden Brent has established herself as one of the leading piano players of her generation, in particular being a regular in the Piano Bar on the Blues Cruise.  On her third album for Yellow Dog Eden plays piano and sings, producer Colin Linden plays guitar and mandolin, Dan Dugmore adds pedal steel and the rhythm section is John Dymond on bass, Gary Craig on drums; on two tracks they are replaced by Stephen Mackey on bass and Bryan Owings on drums.  Fiddle comes from Kenzie Wetz, violin, viola and cello from Chris Carmichael, Ann and Regina McCrary add background vocals.

Recorded in Nashville, Jigsaw Heart is an interesting blend of Eden’s boogie piano style and some definite country tinges, nowhere more evident than on the title track where the weeping pedal steel and Eden’s gently rolling piano give a real country feel.  The opening track “Better This Way” ploughs a similar furrow as Eden ends a relationship before things get worse: “We can’t pretend this isn’t the end, it ended a long time ago.  Let’s raise a glass, toast to the past and all of the joy that we’ve known.”  Between those two songs “Everybody Already Knows” is more what we might expect from Eden as she pounds the keyboard effectively on a rocking boogie.

After that opening trio of originals we get two covers of very different styles and origins.  “Opportunity” is a Joan Armatrading song, much bluesier in feel with Eden’s left hand and the bass working in unison while Colin digs deep on acoustic in his solo.  Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas wrote “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” and it is a song that most of us have heard in one of many covers but Eden does a great job, the McCrary sisters testifying well on both these tracks.

Eden’s “The Last Time” has many of the hallmarks of a Mary Chapin Carpenter ballad, Eden’s slightly gruff voice handling the vocals very effectively.  Eden’s piano sits alongside Colin’s mandolin and Dan’s pedal steel to provide attractive backing for Jimmy Phillips’ “Panther Burn” which evokes a time now past, tales of hard work in cotton fields, looking forward to music at the weekend.

“Let’s Go Ahead And Fall In Love” is a jaunty original with plenty of excellent piano and some raunchy lyrics which should bring a smile to your face.  “Tendin’ To A Broken Heart” is another ballad of broken hearts and getting through as best we can, written by Tommy Polk, Joanna Cotton and Johnny Neel, and makes a fine contrast with the previous account of ‘hot love’.

Eden’s final original is the appropriately entitled “Locomotive” which belts along with plenty of slide and piano.  The song also has some fine play-on-word lyrics: “Locomotive, she’s got a motive, ain’t digging no tracks.  Locomotive, she’s motivated, ain’t looking back”.

The album closes with two covers, again of contrasting styles:  “Get The Hell Out Of Dodge” (Walter Hyatt/Alice Randall) is a real country piece, especially with the fiddle and plucked acoustic guitar solo; “Valentine” comes from the pen of what we might term ‘the Producers’ Guild’ – Colin Linden and Tom Hambridge.  With the strings adding a gentle sheen behind Eden’s vocal, this short, romantic song is an ideal closer.

This is an enjoyable album which probably has too many gentle, country-tinged songs for the casual blues fan but will certainly meet the expectations of Eden’s fans and offers a nicely varied set for those unfamiliar with her music.

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