Jen Lane This Life of Mine

Jen Lane This Life of Mine.jpg

Submitted by Lee Fraser

Jen Lane grew up writing and singing, creativity naturally streaming through her vocal chords and fingers. She had an album released when she was still a teenager. With the release of a fourth album, “For the Night”, momentum was building and the outlook on her future was full steam ahead. But then a fluke accident ripped up the tracks suddenly.

The years following that injury saw Jen in and out of hospital and physiotherapy. There were multiple surgeries and unforeseen effects that straddled her with pain and immobility. While her husband, John Antoniuk, was touring his own albums, Jen was stranded at home, trapped in their Saskatoon home month after month. But as Henry David Thoreau once said, “All misfortune is but a stepping stone to fortune.”

With a bundle of new songs under her arm, Jen sought out an opportunity to record a new album in the US with a desired producer. It didn’t work out, but everything happens for a reason. The stars aligned with the opportunity to record the album with producer John Ellis, who has worked with the likes of Barney Bentall and The Be Good Tanyas.The recording studio was an alpaca farm, in the heart of beautiful British Columbia. The serene surroundings, the workspace designed by a veteran of the scene and accommodations suited to a musician’s lifestyle were all conducive to inspiration and peace of mind. All the best qualities of Jen’s vocal talents are evident on this album, which is surely the result of this locale.

In a further twist of events, Jen suffered a terrible emotional blow in the early days of their recording session time, with news that her Grandpa had passed away. Always the strongest musical influence in her life, it was almost as though he wanted to be a part of the recording, to be with her in a way that was not possible in physical presence. The convergence of these two difficult life events – the home-bound months and the passing of her Grandpa – resulted in an unexpected outcome. It is not an album of remorse and life lessons, but rather, an album of optimism and joy. The only songs with a sad tone are ones that are not in any way auto-biographical. The songs that are drawn from her real life experience are supportive, defiant, reflective and even sassy.

If you are already a fan of Jen Lane, you will be pleased to find that she is still very much herself on this album. The tunes are catchy and fun to sing along with. The subject matter varies from matters of the heart to observations of the folly of everyday life. If you enjoyed learning about a cricket in her back yard, then you will be heartened to hear about the snowstorm in spring. Jen continues to have an uncanny sense of phrasing and a knack for matching notes and scales to the topic.

The difference on this album, compared to her previous releases, is the production. Ellis has added rich, subtle textures to every track. Not only do we have the key components of drums, bass and guitars, but most songs feature Ellis’s award-winning pedal steel playing. And there is just the right element of piano here, banjo there, a dash of organ. While Jen may have added a playful kazoo solo in the song about making the most of things, Ellis adds highlights like a battle between stringed instruments to compliment the battle of Jen against shack wackiness, as she likes to refer to it.

And so, as you sit back to enjoy the album, right up to the triumphant title track, take a good look at the album cover. There she stands, strumming her trusty guitar, wearing her Grandpa’s boots. This little life of Jen’s: so full of promise and optimism, and so generous of her to share with the world. Here’s to the train getting back on track, because it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

The new album is available on iTunes as of February 26, or you can pick up a physical copy of the CD by going to one of the many shows she has lined up this spring.

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