Album Review: Jaden Larue – In My Bones (NewMusicFriday Ep 10 winner)
Jaden Larue’s voice is really familiar, even if you’ve never heard her sing before. She sounds like someone you’ve known your whole life. But then she happens to have darn near perfect pitch, impeccable control, and the ability to sprinkle in just the perfect amount of vibrato. So even if she sounds a bit “girl next door,” she certainly is not average in terms of talent. This album In My Bones is an outstanding showcase of Larue’s musical ability.
The opening “Across the Land” feels like it could have come out of a musical. There’s a nice snappy beat and a clever style about it. The backing vocals sound like the chorus kick line. The layers of pizzazz on this track get better with each listen. The uptempo swing style is sure to ingratiate a lot of listeners before the first few minutes of the album even pass.
“Believer” is a little bit bluesier, but still has that solid vocal quality about it. This isn’t a sort of Muddy Waters blues style, rather like a KT Tunstall swagger with a blues edge. The lyrics are intriguing, too. “Now’s the time for patient hearts… soon it’ll all be clear.” It’s about weathering the proverbial storm of a relationship. It’s wisdom encased in this easy, bluesy jam. Good stuff.
“Maybe” is a little bit more like Ingrid Michaelson than any of the other songs. It gets toes tapping and pretty much automatically induces a smile. For those of you who follow the YouTube music scene, she reminds me a bit of the darling Dodie. That’s the style here. The lyrics are right on the gray line of “twee,” and that’s totally alright with me. It shows a different side of Larue’s vocal familiarity that just… makes me smile.
The following “Open Road” is the track that earned Larue this review. That said, it’s such an intriguing song I kept being drawn into Larue’s style. I feel like she’s the type of artist who just stands on her own with each response. “I just want someone to hold when the nights get cold…” seems like the kind of line that she wouldn’t normally say out loud. Because of that vulnerability and artistic transparency, I can’t help but applaud Larue’s efforts.
Just to prove another layer of Larue’s musical cornucopia, “Gemini” brings in elements of electronic music. It’s still thoroughly 21st century American pop music, but it does so with a complication that isn’t really found on the other tracks. The lyrics and phrasing are really complex. The dark imagery of secrets and desires come across as mysterious in all the right ways. It’s more thriller than horror and it begs for the listener’s interest.
“My Weary Head” is another uke-based sweet tune. It still has that deep, personal confessional tone to it, but does so with a lighter heart to the composition. As the full band joins in with the message, the listener gets the sense that Larue is a sort of “everywoman” character, despite being so supremely talented. The fact that a song like “Tennessee” can follow it, shows off Larue’s impressive abilities. “Tennessee” may not be a conventional country song, but it certainly is in that vein. One gets the sense that this one could fly at any honky tonk in the American South. Heck, I bet it’d get a rowdy response at some quality listening rooms in Nashville.
The final track “In My Bones” is the title track, obviously, and for good reason. It’s one of the less complicated tracks on the album, but maybe packs the hardest message. It’s a heartbreak song, which is pretty indicative of the blues/country vibe throughout the album. It’s ultimately about missing that addictive quality from a past relationship; even though it’s not right, she craves what she used to have. It’s so relatable that it’s disturbingly good.
As the listener unfolds the layers of this album, it’s impossible not to realize how talented Larue really is. The fact that she can make such a familiar voice take on so many different flavors is a testament to her hard work. There are no mistakes on this album, no shades of “not quite there.” This is the work of an accomplished singer songwriter, worth your time if you’re a fan of pop music, folk, or even welcome to new adaptations of classic Americana.