Jennifer Truesdale releases Through the Circle
The latest release from Boston based Berklee College alum Jennifer Truesdale is an album entitled Through the Circle. The ten song collection features Truesdale’s songwriting talents on eight of the tracks while the remaining two are covers of iconic material Truesdale reshapes to fit her talents. She explores a variety of genres over the course of these ten songs, veering from R&B into blues and even gospel, but the verve and personality she brings to each performance defines the work more than any one musical direction. Her songwriting themes are eternal and she has surrounded herself with a five star supporting cast of musicians to help her realize the sound she hears in her head – including members of the famed Boston Symphony Orchestra.
“I Need You Tonight” leaves a mark on listeners new and old alike thanks to its raucous sound. Truesdale tears into this lyric about longing, a clear illustration of Truesdale’s skills as a writer, with dramatic flair while never overshadowing the song. She has a voice capable of dominating each performance but her clear aim is appending great singing to each track and never taking short cuts towards that goal. The blues feeling running through this tune gets Through the Circle off to a notable start.
“Daydreaming” grabbed me from the first. The arrangement works in jazz and blues sounds alike, a quality you hear in the vocals as well, but Truesdale doesn’t affect this style like someone displaying butterflies pinned down under glass. The piano ringing out through the tune brings some extra melodic dimensions it would otherwise lack. Truesdale shows immense confidence with her cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” and stands as one of the highlights of the album.
She makes it her own. The gospel tone of the song is a fully realized result of exploring that side of her musical character. Her singing explores new emotional heights with the track “Sunrise” and finds her standing solid on her torch jazz talents, but never achieves a hackneyed or clichéd effect. “We Will Not Be Forgotten” brings audiences back to the gospel sounds we heard with the album’s first cover. The coupling of Truesdale’s voice with melodic piano work makes a number of songs on Through the Circle and this is one of the best.
Her cover of the 70’s soft rock classic from Stephen Stills, “Love the One You’re With”, substitutes a bigger electric guitar presence than the Stills’ version, but Truesdale’s impassioned singing is far different fare than Stephen Stills’ mellow California delivery. Through the Circle ends with the track “My Life”, the album’s finest lyric, and Truesdale seems to sense that. She turns in a performance bleeding emotions from the outset and elevating the strong lyric into performed poetry. Some of the gospel influences from earlier tracks return for the song’s concluding refrain. It closes Through the Circle on a convincing note and underlines Truesdale’s skills for commanding any style and making the audience believe. This is a major album from a major talent.