Jenny Wren & Her Borrowed Wings – The Girl On The Bike (Are You The Girl On The Bike?)
Creature Records – 2019
11 tracks; 46 minutes
This is the third CD release from this Essex, UK acoustic trio and it continues in the vein of the previous releases – all original music which combines jazz and folk elements with blues; the band call their music ‘acoustic rhythm and blues’ and it’s a good description. The band has established a strong reputation with their live shows, especially in Europe, and has a monthly residency at Ain’t Nothin’ But in London, arguably the closest to a juke joint you can find in the UK. From the very start of their career the band was determined to play all the music themselves on their primary instruments, no guests, no overdubs. Jenny Trilsbach handles lead vocals and double bass, Ben Fisher is on resophonic guitar and B/Vs, Ben Gallon on acoustic guitar and B/Vs. Ben G contributes five songs, Jenny four and Ben F two.
Opener ‘Balls Mad’ finds Jenny singing about a broken relationship over some great acoustic blues while ‘Showtime’ has a slinky rhythm set up by Jenny’s languid bass lines. ‘The Dirty Disease’ has the sort of broken rhythms that make you think of French artists like Georges Brassens, a feeling reinforced by the guitar interplay mid-tune. ‘So Much More’ features Jenny’s bass and vocals, the guitars only coming in after the first verse, a quiet song with lyrics that hint at a woman in trouble. The title track has the bass again to the fore and more enigmatic lyrics, this time seemingly influenced by an early start to the day.
In ‘Hard Blues’ Jenny is feeling bad, even suicidal at times, her angst offset by some really lovely guitar work. ‘Devil’s Paw’ is a cautionary tale of Mum’s warnings to a young girl growing up. ‘I’m Gone’ is another very bluesy tune with some great slide playing. The mood does not get any brighter on ‘44 Years’: “Here I lay, wasted away, 44 years waiting for my dying day. Now I’m leaving, no grieving, it’s just the end” but the gentle country blues of ‘Get Where It Goes’ is more positive as Jenny sings of the camaraderie of heading out on the road to a gig: “Keep on moving, don’t look back. We’ll be up early, out on the road. We’ll move together and we’ll get where it goes.”
This band plays some delightful music and deserves the success it is having in Europe. Fans of well played acoustic music should check them out. The album is available from the band’s website.