Cassandra Jenkins

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EP (2013), 7/10
Play Till You Win (2017), 6/10
An Overview on Phenomenal Nature (2021), 6.5/10

New York's singer-songwriter Cassandra Jenkins rose to prominence with the indolent, anemic, suspended six songs of the EP (2013): the delicate, dreamy and inebriated The Bird, the rarefied, floating, tiptoeing Telephone Ghost the feathery and wordless Up in Flames, and the ghostly lullaby Caterpillar in the vein of the Cowboy Junkies, the most lively of the set.

The EP was followed by ethereal singles (Rabbit, 2014; Perfect Day, 2014; a cover of Cat Stevens' Wild World, 2015) before the album Play Till You Win (2017). The orchestral arrangements do little to enhance Red Lips or Some Time, but work wonders in the shapeless and elongated Hotel Lullaby. Candy Crane and Shame are languid ballads with weeping steel guitar that seem inspired by George Harrison's While my Guitar Gently Weeps. The magical trance of the EP is largely gone. One can still catch a glimpse of it in Disappearing. On the other hand there surfaces an odd correspondence with the 1960s, whether in the folk-rock of the hippy era (Honda's Well) or in the girl-groups of the Phil Spector era (Disco Death Dance).

After the single Things to You (2020) and before the single American Spirits (2021), she penned the seven calm songs of An Overview on Phenomenal Nature (Ba Da Bing, 2021), produced by multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman with strings and saxophones. Here she opted for variety: the martial, Neil Young-esque Michelangelo; the jazzy and nocturnal ballad New Bikini; the chamber pop of Crosshairs with echoes of Van Morrison's Veedon Fleece; the derelict Ambiguous Norway, that seems to be sung and played underwater; and the seven-minute ambient instrumental Ramble. This humble mini-album reaffirmed Jenkins' stature as a composer, particularly sensitive to the chromatic game of timbres.

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