Sound — 8
There is a fine line between ambient rock and orchestral pop and singer-songwriter Jen Wood stretches those parameters with an intuitive nature akin to Ingrid Michaelson and a melodic voicing reflective of Serena Ryder. Wood's new CD, Finds You In Love from New Granada Records and produced and engineered by Shawn Simmons, has a luminous complexion with lulling percussive beats by Joel Harmon tapered by softly feathered guitar strokes from Tomo Nakayama and gently rolling knolls plucked by bassist/banjo player Wolf Carr. It sounds elegant because the music is. Though a large chunk of the album has a mellow pitch earmarked by the soft frothing in You Are The Promise and Let Me Down, Wood adds enough texture to keep the songs evolving by layering flowy strings and voluminous piano tapping with guitar rock riffs. Wood's single Pills reaches colossal heights in the arcs made along the chord progressions, and the bowing roundelays in the acoustic guitar phrasing through Zeppelin have a Celtic-tint. Midway through Zeppelin, the instruments take on a heavier tone with hues becoming more intense and chords being more tightly compressed. The soft radiance in the guitar tones for Red Sun and Beautiful are liken to the lacy ruffles of The Wishing Tree, which sail into the glittery synth-textured inflections sowed along Trust. The pattering in the drum beats through Moving Light complement Wood's choir-toned vocals and shift to a slow marching tempo in Flight. The light, shivering pulses of People Like Us have a tribal grinding which subsides along the pensive piano lobes of Never Doubt making for an album that suits easy listening's stratum.
Lyrics — 9
Jen Wood's lyrics can have a straightforward meaning or they can be veiled in symbolism like in Pills as she chronicles, Today, I threw away my pills / Against my family doctor's will / They said they would make me smile / But instead, I feel nothing / Nothing at all. She takes on a more straightforward approach in Trust when she cites, I never wanted to leave you / I never meant to break your heart / I only wanted to love you / There's no love without trust I could look into your eyes and believe every word you say, Baby. She makes certain that her voice is audible in every track and that the lyrics are crystal clear.
Overall Impression — 8
Though ambient rock and orchestral pop can easily slip into the trappings of being boring and repetitive, Jen Wood keeps her songs above that line. She shows a genuine affection for her craft and melodic sensibilities which groom her songs to an Enya-like shine. Passion can be evident without being blaringly loud, and Jen Wood demonstrates such gentle passion on Finds You In Love.