Lynn Jackson,
Sweet Relief
(Busted Flat, 2005)

Singer-songwriter Lynn Jackson has a voice that could charm the birds out of the trees -- a honey-sweet, countryish vocal style that swaggers jauntily through her uptempo numbers and skulks beautifully across her slower, more laidback numbers.

On songs like "Gone for Good," the Canadian manages to give that kind of life-affirming quality to a song that her fellow countrywomen Joni Mitchell and kd lang have in spades. "Big Mistake" is a snaking, bluesy romp through treated harmonica and electric guitar swampland. An admonition to a lover, the song shows the extent of Jackson's range as a singer and writer.

"You Say," "The End" and "Forecast" are more introspective, thoughtful compositions. Her voice, by turns husky and angelic, reveals its ability to turn from fragile to robust in a few bars.

The title track is a classic country song about loss and regret, and Dan Walsh's dobro gives the song a timeless feel. The only non-Jackson composition on the record is Leonard Cohen's "Tower of Song," and her reading is a good one. Investing the song with a lively femininity, she sashays her way though the corridors of the tower with the lightfooted gait of a barefoot nubile. The arrangement is beautiful and she manages to pull off the feat of making the song her own. Quite an achievement.

Overall, Sweet Relief is a beautiful collection of songs by Jackson and her band. There is much chemistry at work here, and we should be hearing a lot more about her in the future.

by Sean Walsh
17 June 2006