Jenie Thai – Only The Moon (Independent)
Jenie Thai was born in Thailand to a large musical family and was raised just outside Edmonton, Alberta. Thai’s own prodigious talents were soon spotted and at age five she began private tuition on the piano, played at camps, workshops and festivals, eventually studying at Grant MacEwan University, and graduating in Jazz and Contemporary Music.
In-between she found her own particular sound, a musical space that connects artists like Joanna Newsom, Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell and Regina Specter – and that’s not a bad place to be. Her ability to combine literate songwriting with classic boho jazz influences definitely stands her out from the crowd and makes her debut long-player something of a revelation.
Apart from the jazz and songwriting influences that have obviously impacted her approach to music, Thai’s innate knack for pop accessibility is equally striking. On “Only The Moon” she’s produced a nine-track collection that’s complex and layered, yet incredibly easy to engage with.
On “Your Sweet Lullaby” rolling percussion underpins Thai’s strident piano playing and yearning vocal – great stuff. “Out of Line” kicks the doors in and wrecks the joint with a country-blues stomp that Jerry Lee would have been proud of and “Lonely Tonight” steps delicately though Rickie Lee Jones territory.
Bookending the album, opener “The Lights Are Low” is custom built for grown-up radio, with a quite lovely vocal from Thai, and a pristine jazz-pop backing. Closing with the title track, we get to hear a little of the fruits of Thai’s classical training and it concludes with the sweetest song on the record.