Life Lessons – The Struggle – is real, and it’s what Terrill Jenkins and CO have a lot to say about on this fantastic new EP from the Austin, TX based artist and his killer band of musicians. The players include Jenkins himself on lead vocals, acoustic guitar and keys. Along with Matthew Alvarez on lead guitar, Monroe Stinson and Stephen Bernhardt on bass duties, Damien Valenzuela on sax and Giovanna McDanel on backing vocals for a vibrant R&B tour de force. The subjects never get crossed up, as these songs all keep to the same level of seriousness through very meaningful lyrics about suffering without going over the edge.
The EP gets into a little bit of everything, including rock and jazz guitar. “The Struggle” puts everything out there in the first song without indicating where the music will go, but clearly indicating where his head is at. You can still relate your own meaning, but Jenkins let’s you know he’s been there and done that if you’re going through hard times and heartache. The vocals are equally as strong as the lyrics with Jenkins pulling off an over the top job to get the show on the road. “Reckless Tragedy” is more of a personal relationship song, but it contains more of the same quality singing, songwriting and playing.
The band start to shine even brighter on “When I Get Home” which anyone can imagine what might be about. It pretty much speaks for itself about the home coming vibe. Once again, this is another brilliant track with compliments to everyone in the ensemble. So far, it’s three for three and with things getting better as it goes. “I’m Yours” is more instrumentally subdued with Jenkins getting even more personalized in the lyrics about a potential love triangle, but the sax work tends to save it with Damien Valenzuela really coming through. But to be fair to Jenkins, this might be where he also shines the most with some extremely humble lyrics.
“Ebony Rose” is a very slinky groove about a lost love that really was no loss at the end of the day. Jenkins pulls off a believable vocal by concentrating on the good side of not being together anymore. This is where things get the most-jazzy, but the vocals still take a front seat no matter how you slice it, as Jenkins proves to have a monster voice. Not to mention, so does his backing singer, Giovanna McDanel. Props also must go to Damien Valenzuela for more killer sax on this great track.
This is the type of record you can listen to all day long, or all evening long as well. It’s that easy listening but super intense at the same time. It’s just a very heavy minded release with every track weighing in on the same high level. It just gets better as it goes with the closing efforts of “Make It Through” being the last notes but by no means the least. It’s all about facing the truth but not doing it on our own. It comes recommended for each-and every song, and each-and every musician’s contribution.