Menu | Rating System | Guest Book | Archived Reviews:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Black Dog


Jennifer Left


Singing Hinny Music (self-released)

Release Date:


Reviewed by:

Jennifer Left is a quirky looking girl from Brighton, in the UK. Go and take a look at the press shots on her website, where she is painted up like a porcelain doll and posed at weird angles, again like a doll. I find it vaguely disturbing in a way that i cannot quite put my finger on, but whatever. She has a good voice and a penchant for old timey music.

Black Dog is her debut EP/single and it is quite fun. In one sense it is an EP, with 5 tracks, but in another it is a single, with an A-side, a B-side, and three remixes of the A-side.

That A-side is, of course, Black Dog which starts with a bopping, see-sawing rhythm, and then her voice comes in, clear and light. Her voice has a hint of natural tremolo, which she uses to great effect. However, the overall effect of the song is of something from the 1940s. Her singing style and voice, combined with the sparse instrumentation and simple rhythm, seem very retro to me. I wonder what it would sound like to hear Ms. Left cover The Andrew Sisters. Pretty good, it'd bet. Still, this is a fun tune. I like the whistling towards the end, and the one subdued muted trumpet note on the chorus.

The B-side is called Hushabye, and is nicely retro, with chiming piano and sawing guitars. Ms. Left's crisp pronunciation here reminds me of some of the vocal stylings used by Annie Clark in St. Vincent. The words are very precisely spoken, almost meticulously so, which works with the strings and keyboards. It's a nice calm little song, which i suppose makes sense given the name.

Then we have the remixes, none of which are terribly long. Let me state up front that i have never heard of any of these remixers.

The first remix is by The Wild Knights. This takes Ms. Left's quirky retro pop and drags it, kicking and screaming, into the 1990s. This is her song remixed for a rave, all baggy clothes and glow sticks. Her voice is echoed and looped, keyboards drone, and the beat skitters and thuds. This is the antithesis of what she is doing, and as such makes for an odd entry on this EP. As a ravetastic remix, it's not bad but not noteworthy either.

The next remix is by Murder He Wrote, and it is very different. Murder He Wrote stretch the song out, adding in some deeper percussion, making the whistling more prevalent, and stretching out the sounds. Her voice is left largely alone. The effect here is interesting -- the original reminds me of a 1940s pop tune sung by people in starched clothing, but this remix is a floor stomping old timey dance tune -- The Andrew Sisters singing in a barn out in the country somewhere, while people stomp the wooden floor, clap, and have a grand old time. This is a great remix.

And then finally we have the Restlesslist remix. Restlesslist emphasizes the faint guitar line, but speeds it up to give it a Western feel. He adds a lot of echo to her voice, and layer in some bass and a modern sounding electric guitar. This moves a frantic pace, but retains the kind of retro feel that the most of this EP has. I bet that people who like Neko Case and Kelly Hogan would enjoy this remix.

So, aside from The Wild Knights' remix, this is a lovely EP of vaguely retro music. I am curious to see where Ms. Left goes with all of this.

Related Links:


Return to the top of this page. | Return to the Album Review menu.