“I Want You Back” is a song that won me over on first listen. I remember the exact moment, sitting on the couch watching levels bounces on the iMac that sat front and center in the living room. Daniel’s fingers tapped restlessly on a mouse and as if he was waiting impatiently to catch the subtle flaw undetectable to the ear of someone removed from the history of the song. I held a glass of red wine, but as I settled into the melody, I forgot about it and was consumed by the new sound.
Then, the chorus kicked in and I realized that Jenn Grant’s new record wasn’t going to be another, charming, heart broken collection of songs or a poppy ode to finding her one true love. No, The Beautiful Wild was going to be the album that finally defined Jenn’s sound. As I listened to Jenn and an unknown voice sing the infectious, bouncy chorus, a Theo Huxtable-worthy admission escaped my brain and I claimed the unfinished sketch as “my jam.”
The song didn’t start from the point at which I heard the arrangement. It grew from the most inauspicious and humble beginnings. Simple strums on an acoustic, recorded onto an iPhone, as if waiting to get to the studio would risk losing the inspiration. As you can hear on the demo, Jenn’s voice hints at the fragility we all used to expected from her, or maybe more honestly, the fragility we forced on from her. Her innocence was something fans held onto much longer than she did. She left the forest many years ago, even if the vision of she and her friends dancing amongst the trees is one that any long time fan will never forget.
The transformation of “I Want You Back” is a perfect representation of Jenn’s growth as an artist. The finished version is mature, confident and patient. It’s sweet and caring, but the love is not that of a young woman. It’s one of a woman that’s touched a real fire that burns bright and leaves scars. The layers are intricate, precise and essential, with the militant drum rolls and tender instrumentation enveloping the listener, but when those backing vocals kick in, the song explodes into the stratosphere.
Look, I’m an unapologetic Grant supporter, but each and every time out she, Daniel and the collection of friends that offer supporting textures find new ways to impress. My jam, indeed.
* this idea was stolen, blatantly, from the fantastic blog Slowcoustic. While our tastes and tweets might occasionally cross, Jenn is someone that probably won’t grace his pages and I couldn’t help but follow his lead when it comes to highlighting one of Halifax’s best song writers. Also, I’m kind of a dick.