Jenny Colquitt is another of the names on the #TEAMw21 radar who seems destined for bigger things in 2023 and her latest EP "Lost Animals" is going to go a long way to explaining why. Multi talented on both guitar and keyboard with a voice that can move between full on rocking to almost operatic and then back to a whisper, she has plenty of weapons in her armoury.
With her latest EP "Lost Animals" all of those talents are brought to bear in a collection that tackles a number of real modern day concerns and matches them to orchestral and full on rocking band backings as well as times the gentlest strum of an acoustic guitar or the merest tinkle of a piano key - sometimes nearly all may occur within the span of one song!
"I'm Just Lost" opens the EP, a piano ballad, initially just Jenny, a piano and some echo
"Lost in all the senses of the word.
Ordinary people breathing ordinary air.
Running round in circles to be heard,
We're not scared, we're just lost."
Jenny finds the world around her full of people not in control of their own lives, where outside pressures can weigh heavy, leaving people lost in terms of knowing how to regain control of their destiny.
The 3rd verse finds her passionately asking for the things that can help find her way - She's ready to embrace a new future and is not afraid of what might come or where it might lead.
"Feed me love, feed me hope.
Feed me everything I need for my bones,
to be strong on their own, to be bold.
But I'm not scared at all,
I'm just lost."
For the opening two minutes or so it is a gently paced yet powerfull ballad before things dramatically change in volume and pace. The arrival of drums and strings joining the now insistent piano make an impressively driven rock track. It soars and then when you think it can't go any further it soars again before ending suddenly
"Open Pages" opens to another soundscape of acoustic guitar and sound effects, while the lyrics are unsettling - Are we looking forward at things to come or backwards at what has passed? - the final line suggesting that change is inevitable.
"Save yourself some open pages, in this book.
Find yourself in long lost places, we must look.
And we must talk it over, talk it over they say.
'Coz we can't stay forever, stay forever this way."
Midway through there is a transition - an almost "All Along The Watchtower" acoustic guitar break takes us into another part of the song where Jenny transforms into the lead singer of a truly rocking band. they steadily increase in volume and are easily met and outmatched by Jenny's stirring vocals
Things will fade to an acoustic guitar and whistling and Jenny gently requesting optimistically that we should
"Save yourself some open pages, in this book.
"Feel Inside" instinctively feels like one of the best things that we will hear all year - from the opening of acoustic guitar and piano which give it an almost harp like sound, there is the sweetest of backgrounds for Jenny to lay down the most delicate of vocals
Seemingly taking time out to ponder on a bigger question - how you are feeling. Most people have experienced a gamut of emotions over the last few years and as a nation we are traditionally poor at being able to express it - until maybe now.
"It's a heartache, it's a frozen part of time.
It's a tear, for those you left behind.
It's the mountain of the earth,
that never found your eye.
It's how you feel inside."
The second verse perhaps more tellingly touches on the issue of mental health with the image of a hurricane doubling for the outside world raging past uncaring - Jenny's vocal on the words "time" and "inside" alone is exquisitely beautiful and fragile.
Are you with me? Are you running out of fight ?
Is it over Have you lost your sense of light?
There's a hurricane out there and it doesn't have the time
For how you feel inside
At this point the instrumentation particularly the strings pick up in intensity matched by Jenny's vocal which raise in volume before finishing delightfully high pitched.
"Paradise" is mercifully not a Coldplay cover but something much more interesting - musically alone this is drama on a cinematic scale with sweeping strings front of house, with the band racking up the intensity behind, while Jenny's vocals are at their most forceful yet wonderfully controlled - this is most defintely not X Factor emoting - it is sheer power and it is like nothing else - simply breathtaking.
"Born in this world, rosy little girl.
Forget your worth, and find out you're hurt.
We must know why,
there's no-one there to read between the lines.
We must go tonight,
There's nothing left for me,
nothing left for me in Paradise."
Is this a coming of age song of sorts - when the realisation hits you that you've outgrown your home town that always seemed a paradise?
"Soldier of The Modern Day" was the initial single from the EP released in 2022 - The song opens to a fading synth and acoustic guitar with Jenny plaintively asking
"Is anybody out here?
Is anybody hearing us?
Is anybody round the corner ?
Is anybody in love?"
There's a feeling of isolation and desparation in some of the lyrics - the last line is the only one seeking hope.
There is percussion in the background that could easily be time ticking by or an an army marching in time - it is at the back of the mix yet everpresent adding to the overall ambience.
The second verse opens to Jenny declaring
"I wanna be a soldier - a soldier of the modern day
But I don't want to be your martyr - is everybody ok?"
The chorus very much builds on the idea of one who has reached the end of the tether, willing to sacrifice everything if it will guarantee the safety and future of her children in a better life
"I don't mind, this life of mine is killing me inside
I don't mind, please take my body put, it on the line
Take my life, don't take my children, leave them all behind
I don't mind this heart of mine is frozen inside"
Gradually the intensity builds up, the electric guitar kicks in and Jenny's vocals noticeably shift up a gear although there is still plenty left to come. As the full band kicks in things really start to rock out, and Jenny finds new heights to hit.before her vocals like the band gradually fade away, to barely a whisper.
It is stirring stuff, part ballad part rocker, at times Jenny's vocals are beautifully gentle and tender while at the same time the controlled power when she really lets loose is something to marvel at, a one woman wall of sound!
"Lost Animals" is the title track and has wondrous live feel to it, the crisp percussion, the warm bass, guitars electric and acoustic matched with Jenny's vocals which are bathed in echo and with additional backing vocals create something incredibly vivid. Once again lyrically we are returning to that feeling of being lost. It contains some of the most openly personal revelations of the whole EP
"I'm ashamed of my own self.
Twenty seven years sitting on this shelf.
But I've been raising merry hell!
And I am lost but you can't tell."
It may not have the power of some of the earlier tracks but it is none the less moving, Jenny's attention to detail on the backing vocals give this a light ethereal feel that really brings the central themes to the fore.
As an EP it rewards with each repeated play, it is packed with musical ideas and something new seems to appear each time it is played. Musically the record is joyful even if some of the topics addressed may seem deep and heavy at times.