The fiddle double-stops and burning Telecaster of “Lousy Bridge”, the opening track on Jen Sygit’s brand-new album “So Long Pollyanna,” is a full-bore, hot-production-values departure from the folky leanings of her first two albums. It almost sounds ready for country radio, and for better or worse, country is the lingua franca of countless American songwriters weaned on folk and bluegrass, a haven for its rooted depth and a curse for its vastness- Americana already has too many great songwriters and way too many mediocre ones. But “Bridge” is a playful and self-referential musing on the songwriter’s craft, coy, thoughtful, a little obscure and therefore- to Sygit’s benefit and ours- not at all suited to country radio. In fact each successive track on “So Long Pollyanna” seems to push harder at it’s country boundaries, and the result is an album with plenty of surprises, stylistic left turns, dense, challenging lyrics- it’s more ambitious than you’d expect from someone who could easily get by on her singing alone. Sygit has avoided assembling the usual Earthwork suspects, instead relying on a smaller crew, some of them longtime Spare Change bandmates. One is Drew “Captain Midnite” Howard, whose surprisingly staid Telecaster is featured even more than his luscious steel guitar. Another longtime sidekick is fiddler/singer Tahmineh Gueramy. Sygit has always been a fine singer- it’s her main attraction- but more than half the vocals on “Pollyanna” are heart-to-heart harmony duets with Gueramy, a sonic highlight. “One Thing” features a swing groove with steel guitar and an almost Euro-style chord progression, its breezy rumination on change and regret, a pair with the dark “Poker Face”, the album’s thematic cornerstone. “Sugar High” is a great addition to the why-do-guys-act-like-that corpus of songs and another album high point, with Howard’s guitar and Mike Lynch’s Hammond organ adding a burning joyousness right out of the Bloomfield-and-Kooper “Highway 61” sessions. Sygit is now 30, which may explain the stop-the-world urgency of the album’s closing diptych: Carl Sigman’s 1948 classic “Enjoy Yourself (It’s later than you think)”- that and Gurf Morlix’s “The Whole Truth” are the album’s only covers- and her original “Never Existed,” wondering what’s ahead, as what’s behind seems to have vanished.
50- FUN- AIM AND IGNITE 50- PETE YORN - BACK & FOURTH 52- WILLIE NELSON - AMERICAN CLASSIC (BARNES AND NOBLE EDITION) 52- MINDY SMITH - STUPID LOVE 54- NORAH JONES - THE FALL (TARGET EXCLUSIVE EDITION) 55- PETER BRADLEY ADAMS - TRACES 55- ARI HEST - TWELVE MONDAYS 55- MAT KEARNEY - CITY OF BLACK & WHITE 55- MATT THE ELECTRICIAN- ANIMAL BOY 55- DAVID MEAD - ALMOST AND ALWAYS 55- SHARON SHANNON - SAINTS & SCOUNDRELS 55- SISTER HAZEL- RELEASE 55- DAVID WILCOX - OPEN HAND 64- AMOS - MIDWINTER GRACES 64- JILL JACK - THE SONGWRITER SESSIONS-ROUGH SESSIONS 64- JER COONS - SPEAK 64- GOMEZ- A NEW TIDE (BEST BUY VERSION) 64- GREEN RIVER ORDINANCE- OUT OF MY HANDS 64- MATT HIRES - TAKE US TO THE START 64- JEREMY KITTEL - CHASING SPARKS 64- MEAGHAN SMITH - THE CRICKET'S ORCHESTRA 64- TINTED WINDOWS-TINTED WINDOWS 73- JOHN GORKA - SO DARK YOU SEE 74- AMONG THE OAK & ASH-AMONG THE OAK & ASH 74- MAY ERLEWINE - LOVE LABOR 74- JOHN WESLEY HARDING - WHO WAS CHANGED AND WHO WAS DEAD 74- BEN LEE - THE REBIRTH OF VENUS 78- CARBON LEAF- NOTHING RHYMES WITH WOMAN (AMAZON EXCLUSIVE) 79- CLIFF EBERHARDT - 500 MILES-THE BLUE ROCK SESSIONS 79- OWL CITY- OCEAN EYES 79- SWITCHFOOT- HELLO HURRICANE 79- VEER UNION- AGAINST THE GRAIN 83- MY DEAR DISCO- DANCE THINK LP 84- WILL HOGE - THE WRECKAGE 84- U2- NO LINE ON THE HORIZON (LIMITED EDITION BOX) 86- GREEN DAY- 21st CENTURY BREAKDOWN (TARGET EDITION) 86- ELVIS COSTELLO - SECRET, PROFANE & SUGARCANE 86- IMOGEN HEAP - ELLIPSE 86- DONNA ULISSE - WALK THIS MOUNTAIN DOWN 90- HARRY CONNICK JR. - YOUR SONGS (BARNES AND NOBLE EXCLUSIVE EDITION) 90- CHRISTINE LAVIN - COLD PIZZA FOR BREAKFAST 90- RELIENT K- FORGET AND NOT SLOW DOWN 90- COLBIE CAILLAT - BREAKTHROUGH (DELUXE EDITION) 94- CASTING CROWNS- UNTIL THE WHOLE WORLD HEARS 94- JAY FARRAR & BENJAMIN GIBBARD- ONE FAST MOVE OR I'M GONE-MUSIC FROM KEROUAC'S BIG SUR 94- WILLIAM FITZSIMMONS - THE SPARROW AND THE CROW 94- TONY FURTADO - DEEP WATER 94- GREENCARDS- FASCINATION 94- GUGGENHEIM GROTTO- HAPPY THE MAN 94- HOWARD JONES - ORDINARY HEROES (FAN CLUB EDITION) 94- RICKIE LEE JONES - BALM IN GILEAD 94- DIANA KRALL - QUIET NIGHTS 94- GRANT-LEE PHILLIPS - LITTLE MOON 94- BOB SCHNEIDER - LOVELY CREATURES 94- SIMPLE MINDS- GRAFFITI SOUL/SEARCHING FOR THE LOST BOYS 94- TODD SNIDER - THE EXCITEMENT PLAN 94- MATTHEW SWEET & SUSANNA HOFFS- UNDER THE COVERS VOL. 2 94- VARIOUS- WELLS FOR ZOE
RANK-ARTIST- TITLE 1- JEN SYGIT - SO LONG POLLYANNA 2- DREW NELSON - DUSTY ROAD TO BEULAH LAND 3- VERVE PIPE- A FAMILY ALBUM 4- KERI NOBLE - KERI NOBLE 5- FRAY - THE FRAY (DELUXE EDITION) 6- VIENNA TENG - INLAND TERRITORY 7- RODRIGO Y GABRIELA- 11:11 8- BRANDI CARLILE - GIVE UP THE GHOST 9- SAM CORBIN - MICHIGAN'S WALTZ 10- DAUGHTRY- LEAVE THIS TOWN (TARGET EDITION) 10- INGRIDMICHAELSON- EVERYBODY 12- BEN FOLDS - BEN FOLDS PRESENTS UNIVERSITY A CAPELLA 13- HOWIE DAY - SOUND THE ALARM 14- MICHAEL BUBLE - CRAZY LOVE (FAN CLUB EDITION) 14- NEED TO BREATHE- THE OUTSIDERS 16- INDIGO GIRLS- POSEIDON AND THE BITTER BUG (BONUS DISC VERSION) 17- CHRIS ISAAK - MR. LUCKY (CONSUMER DIRECT EDITION) 17- STEPHEN KELLOGG AND THE SIXERS- THE BEAR 17- RAUL MALO - LUCKY ONE 17- SERENA RYDER - IS IT OK 17- JAMES TAYLOR - OTHER COVERS 17- CHERYLWHEELER- POINTING AT THE SUN 23- REGINA SPEKTOR - FAR 23- VERTICAL HORIZON- BURNING THE DAYS 25- JAY BRANNAN - IN LIVING COVER 26- ALLIE MOSS - PASSERBY 27- NEWTON FAULKNER - REBUILT BY HUMANS (BONUS TRACKS) 27- ROSANNE CASH - THE LIST (BARNES AND NOBLE EXCLUSIVE VERSION) 29- DAMNWELLS- ONE LAST CENTURY 29- TYRONE WELLS - REMAIN 31- BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY- HOW BIG CAN YOU GET? THE MUSIC OF CAB CALLOWAY 31- ANTJE DUVEKOT - THE NEAR DEMISE OF THE HIGH WIRE DANCER 31- PAPER RAINCOAT- THE PAPER RAINCOAT 31- PARACHUTE- LOSING SLEEP 31- SUSAN WERNER - CLASSICS 36- ELLIS PAUL - THE DAY AFTER EVERYTHING CHANGED 36- DUNCAN SHEIK - WHISPER HOUSE 38- DAVID GRAY - DRAW THE LINE (LTD ED. DELUXE PACKAGE) 38- VARIOUS- SWEETHEART (STARBUCKS EXCLUSIVE) 40- JILL JACK - SONGWRITER SESSIONS 41- ALTERNATE ROUTES- A SUCKER'S DREAM 41- FICTION FAMILY-FICTION FAMILY 41- PAOLO NUTINI - SUNNY SIDE UP 41- WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION-WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION 45- JOHN MAYER - BATTLE STUDIES 45- TRAIN- SAVE ME, SAN FRANCISCO 47- OLIVIA BROADFIELD - EYES WIDE OPEN 47- DANNY COX - IN ALL THINGS 47- JARS OF CLAY- THE LONG FALL BACK TO EARTH
Here are the T&T Top 45 Albums of 2009 as voted on by the listeners and staff:
1 Jen Sygit - So Long Pollyanna - EM 2 Corb Lund - Losin' Lately Gambler - New West 3 Buddy and Julie Miller - Written in Chalk - New West 4 Sam Corbin - Michigan's Waltz - EW 5 Sarah Jarosz - Song Up in Her Head - Sugar Hill 6 The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You - Columbia 7 Justin Townes Earle - Midnight at the Movies - BS 8 Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard - One Fast Move or I'm Gone - Kerouac Films 9 Tim Easton - Porcupine - NW 10 Wilco - Wilco (The Album) - Nonesuch 11 Neko Case - Middle Cyclone - Anti 12 Joe Henry - Blood from Stars - Anti 13 Hurricane Doyle - ST - SR 14 Fruit Bats - The Ruminant Band - Sub Pop 15 Jo Serrapere - Love Going South - The Detroit Radio Co Recordings 16 Wayne Hancock - Viper of Melody - BS 17 The Bottle Rockets - Lean Forward - BS 18 Kieran Kane - Somewhere Beyond the Roses - Compass/DR 19 Eilen Jewell - Sea of Tears - SS 20 Tom Waits - Glitter and Doom Live - Anti 21 Will Hoge - The Wreckage - Ryko 22 Monsters of Folk - ST - Shangri-La 23 Scott Miller - For Crying Out Loud - F.A.Y. 24 Dave Alvin and the Guilty Woman - ST - YR 25 Paul Burch - Still Your Man - Ramseur 26 Andrew Bird - Noble Beast - Fat Possum 27 Drive-By Truckers - The Fine Print - New West 28 Gary Louris and Mark Olson - Ready for the Flood - NW 29 Samuel Seth Bernard & May Erlewine - Welcome Back - EM 30 Gurf Morlix - Last Exit to Happyland - SR 31 Nolan McKelvey - A Matter of Time - SR 32 Slaid Cleaves - Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away - Music Road 33 Todd Snider - The Excitement Plan - YR 34 Guy Clark - Somedays The Song Write You - Dualtone 35 Danny Barnes - Pizza Box - ATO 36 The Flatbellys - Get 'Round - SR 37 The Boxmasters - Modbilly - Vanguard 38 John Doe and the Sadies - Country Club - YR 39 Newfound Road - Same Old Place - Rounder 40 Chris Smither - Time Stands Still - SS 41 Chuck Prophet - Let Freedom Ring - YR 42 Los Straitjackets - The Further Adventures of LS - YR 43 Scott H. Biram - Something's Wrong/Lost Forever - BS 44 The Gourds - Haymaker - YR 45 Steve Earle - Townes - NW
Here's a quick re-cap of some memorable moments for jen 2009...
-Jen released her 3rd full length album So Long Pollyanna in August of 2009. (250 Pre-release 'special edition' copies were released in Jan. 2009) -So Long Pollyanna received album of the year on John Bommarito's annual Top 100 albums of the year list (Ann Arbor's 107.1fm) -Jen was nominated for two Jammie Awards: Best Female Solo Artist and Best Song for "Sugar High". (WYCE Grand Rapids, MI) -So Long Pollyanna was named album of the year by The Progressive Torch & Twang on their annual Top 45 albums of the Year list. (The Impact, 88.9fm, East Lansing, MI) -Jen recorded an album w/ Stella! in NYC under the patronage of Dave Marsh (Co-founder of Creem Magazine, Springsteen Biographer, Rolling Stone contributor) -Stella! appeared live on Dave Marsh's Sirius radio show 'Kick out the Jams' w/ Stella! Tracks from So Long Pollyanna were also spun on the show. -Jen and Sam Corbin opened for the Wallflowers at the Frederick Meijer Gardens. -"My Sweet Angeline", performed with Sam Corbin, was chosen to appear on the Live from Studio A2: Vol. 2 compilation CD benefitting the Michigan Theater. -Jen (backed by Spare Change) was a musical guest on the WKAR/PBS show Backstage Pass. The show aired around Michigan in Jan 2010 and will be offered nationally this spring.
Here's looking forward to more excitement in 2010!! It's off to a great start...