Album Review: Jenny & Tyler – Of This I’m Sure
Jenny and Tyler‘s album Of This I’m Sure is one that absolutely could have made my top 20 albums of 2015. I regret only that I got to it a few weeks too late. But I’m doing my best to make amends with this review. So let’s not mince words; this is an incredible album by two superbly talented artists. I don’t know much about the team behind them, but they’re pretty awesome as well. The sound is powerful pop folk. There is so much heart and inspiration dripping from this album, I can candidly say that it will be playing in my home and for my own family for years to come.
The opening title track is really sweet. I enjoy the crescendos and the power that comes through on each section of the song. But let’s just say that really good opener gets immediately upstaged by “Song For You,” an intimate and inspiring track that continues to build into an absolute arena shaker. “Open your heart; for I have loved you from the start.” There are all sorts of love-soaked lyrics on this album and I can’t get enough of them.
In one of their promotional videos for the album, Jenny mentions that the album has songs of different types of love including friendship, romance, and divine. These each come through in many ways throughout the album, creating an emotional feast that pushes and pulls the listener from track to track. In one moment, you’ll be thinking of your best friend from your childhood, then your honeymoon, and then the vastness of the Creator. It’s quite a journey.
“Beloved One” is stylistically similar to other tracks on the album. The vocal harmonies between Jenny and Tyler obviously take center stage, but the compositions themselves are pretty amazing. “My love, my love, I still believe in us – you here with me.” That’s it, right? That’s what romance is about. It’s about staying when things get difficult. As the vocal lead gets passed between the two voices, listeners get the immediate sense that these two beautiful souls are singing about something real, something true. I’m not sure I’ve heard this kind of intimacy in song since the Civil Wars split. I get the sense what Jenny and Tyler are about is more than just their band and their music; it’s about love.
My absolute favorite song on the album (and a no-joke personal all time favorite now) is called “When I Meet You.” Jenny’s lead vocal is crystal clear. The atmospheric strings and Tyler’s vocal (a bit more tender here than the way he likes to soar on some of the other tracks) really works with the “when I hold you” lyric. Their gentle harmonies click, delivering a subtle-rolling melody that includes just enough minor chord turns to feel unique, but soothing and sweet. To put it more simply, I sent it to my wife the first time I heard it. It’s adorable.
“Walk With You” feels like a classic Americana tune. I would even say that it’s a style that fans of Green River Ordinance and other indie rock outfits might enjoy. But there’s a positivity like GRO or even Needtobreathe that just can’t be ignored with this duo. Similarly “My Dear One” has a semblance of a sort of pop ballad to it. The track legitimately sounds like it could be on top forty radio (no offense). The way the melody unfolds, there’s a definite connection with classic Americana music styles, most notably in rock and a bit of blues. But it all comes through with a sort of U2-esque pop rock sound. This song has mass appeal, to put it plainly. “I’m not giving up on you, love… when you’re ready, come again.” Yep, that’s love.
“Where To Begin” is probably more the kind of track you’d expect to hear on an album described with the words “pop folk.” Of course Jenny’s vocals shine on this one, reflecting a prayerful spirit. It’s about a kind of maternal “I felt you moving, kicking and dancing…” It’s gentle and loving in completely different ways than other tracks on the album, but it works so gloriously well. “Fly Away” is short and sweet. It’s a lullaby with Jenny’s vocals and the acoustic guitar. This is the sound of someone bearing their heart for us. Thank you, sincerely, for that. “Believe in a world you can’t see…” That’ll work.
“In Everything You Do” is a captivating track. From start to finish the guitar and vocals are mesmerizing. When the full band joins and Tyler begins to sing, there’s a shift in the mood of the song toward something that feels safe and secure. I can’t be 100% sure what the song is really about, but it sure makes me want to embrace being human and alive. It encourages us to seek “wonder,” which is a pretty exciting thing. “We… try to show… you love.” There are snippets of the divine and the eternal in this one, but I think it might just be a song a few lovely parents wrote for their children. That’s how I hear it and it melts my heart.
“To the Sea” is the final, soothing, atmospheric track. I feel like it’s an overstatement to call something “heavenly” so instead I’ll use the term “worshipful.” It’s definitely a worshipful piece. Tyler’s lines, almost whisper-sung, create the same kind of prayerfulness heard on other tracks on the album. But it’s the perfect intimate way to end an album full of the most intimate love I’ve heard on an album in a long time, maybe ever.
This is a fabulous album that I will include in my personal favorites forever. Maybe it’s because I am married with two little kids of my own, but the sentiments captured on this album resonate deeply with me. I think many people will find much to “love” about this fantastic album. Beyond the soulful, enriching lyrics, the musicianship is superb. There are myriad musical influences that serve to deliver the messages of the songs rather than stylistically creating gimmicks or fads. Listeners walk away having felt something, not just heard it. Bravo. I can’t wait to hear them live some day.