Review: Lauren Jenkins – No Saint
It has been a slow journey to her debut album but Lauren Jenkins rewards our patience with an album that takes us back to the crossroads where country, pop, and rock once hung out together sharing a bottle of whiskey. Having been on the scene for a decade, No Saint doesn’t show the slightest hint of uncertainty in its production. Jenkins delivers ten memorable songs and then she’s gone just as quickly as she arrived. Possessing a distinctive delivery that leaves a smoky aftertaste in your ears, Jenkins joins the growing cast of sharp-witted songwriters seizing control of Nashville and taking music back to a more natural place.
While the signposts are there to call this country music, Jenkins could just as easily fall in with a rock-n-roll crowd as the driving opener “Give Up the Ghost” proves. The working class anthem “Payday” celebrates the working woman who doesn’t have to act like a lady and takes her Maker’s Mark straight. Lest you forget her drink of choice, “Maker’s Mark And You” blends traditional country lyrics with a carefully layered atmosphere where hazy guitar notes float slowly across the horizon. It is the music that sells the lyrics and prevents the song from becoming another predictable country cliche.
The enchanting title track has the ragged beauty of Stevie Nicks in her most vulnerable moments. Grappling with infidelity and her religion, Jenkins presents a wounded but determined outlook on what comes next which proves to be the narrative centerpiece of the album. The more upbeat “My Bar” shows the other side of those emotions with a more assured Jenkins dismissing an ex who dares to bring a new flame to her watering hole. It’s a good romp delivered perfectly but its the type of song that could fit into just about any contemporary album from Carrie Underwood to Elle King. Jenkins has far more to offer us.
No Saint introduces us to a formidable songwriter with a pick-up truck full of hooks that ignores musical boundaries with the same dismissive wink as Kacey Musgraves. That alone is a reason to be excited about where music is headed. The artifice of modern production and the short-attention span of celebrity are ringing more and more hollow. The need for genuine songwriters who can create an emotional connection between the music and the listener has never been greater. Lauren Jenkins has chosen the perfect time to grace us with the pleasure that is her debut album.