K.J. Denhert,
Girl Like Me
(Mother Cyclone, 2003)

K.J. Denhert has produced a cool and catchy CD in Girl Like Me. The sound is jazzy with strong funk and R&B influences -- she calls it "urban folk" and her strong guitar work and rich voice set a style and classy lead for her accompanying band.

There are two covers on the CD: "She Loves You" by the Beatles and "Message in a Bottle" by Sting, and also her version of Stephen Foster's "Oh Susannah." I'm not sure why she chose to do these particular songs, although they are good enough -- but when her own original lyrics are so strong, smart, hard-hitting and sheer in-your-face poetry, I think she should have stayed with her own compositions.

The balladic "Violet" is beautiful, and she describes it as her "tip of the hat" to James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. I find shades of Janis Ian and Tracy Chapman in it, too. The title track is lyrically sharp and musically mellow, with some lovely flute work lifting the song above the smoky jazz base and the percussion providing glimpses of almost Caribbean warmth. "How Many Ways" is a poignantly reflective song, just K.J.'s vocals with minimal guitar, bass and piano -- delicate and deliciously sad!

The overall feel of the album is jazz/funk, with that indefinable warm, smooth rhythm that gets you to unwind and chill out, even if the lyrics are taking your head to a different space -- zen jazz, maybe? I do know it was a real effort to take it off the player, and I will definitely be looking out for more.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 8 May 2004

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