Recording Review: Jennifer Kimball, ‘Avocet’
To say that it was well worth the 11-year wait for “Avocet,” the follow-up to Jennifer Kimball’s terrific sophomore effort, “Oh Hear Us,” is at once to state the obvious – I mean, what other choice did we have but to wait? – but also to celebrate the arrival of a new recording by one of our very best new-folk singer-songwriters. Her solo debut, “Veering from the Wave,” proved that Kimball was the creative equal of Jonatha Brooke, her duet partner in The Story. “Avocet” builds on the ground Kimball previously laid in a collection of songs that catch us up on where she’s been (sounds like she’s been enjoying domestic bliss and her time spent outdoors working as a landscape designer) and where she’s headed (hopefully toward more music-making).
Kimball is a fabulous singer – her voice is naturally lush, warm, and gorgeous, but always controlled, and that in itself is always worth a listen. But she’s also a terrific songwriter, and the chamber-pop-style production and arrangements on “Avocet” serve both the singer and the song, with reeds, horns, guitars, and keys sensitively dancing around her complex but perfectly catchy melodies (kudos to producer Alec Spiegelman). “Avocet” is a great work of beauty that charts a mature emotional terrain, pulling on heartstrings at one moment and rocking out the next, in the vein of singer-songwriter classics like Carole King’s “Tapestry” and Suzanne Vega’s “Solitude Standing.” Extra points for not shying away from state-of-the-art rhythms and percussion.