Lynn Jackson- I Am Only The Moon review

Lynn Jackson I Am Only the Moon

Select musical artists never disappoint.

Kim Beggs. Maria Dunn. Pharis and Jason Romero. Ann Vriend. John Reischman. Those are just some of the western Canadians who fit the bill.

Heading east to Ontario, one encounters Lynn Jackson.

Never fails.

I’ve written about Lynn Jackson’s albums several times, [HERE, HERE, and HERE] and while I haven’t heard all twelve of her records, I’ve heard enough to know that she can’t disappoint this listener.

Sometimes she is more blues-focused. Other times more guitar-based. Often a troubadour exploring interpersonal workings. But no matter the sounds Lynn Jackson explores, the quality of performance and song doesn’t falter.

Which brings us to I Am Only the Moon, her colourful new album featuring a dozen originals and a pair of Jason Molina songs as bonus.

Having recently added Painter to her simple calling card of “Singer Songwriter Musician,” Kitchener, Ontario’s Lynn Jackson created the album art for I Am Only the Moon. Like her artwork, the music comprising this album is sparse, pared down to essentials revealing each song’s inner beauty and heart.

Jackson’s independence is given voice within the blues-drenched drama of “The Wrench,” while “The Workin’ Life” and “I’m Awake” reveal similar outlooks in differing manners.

Fighting the corporate 9-5, Jackson sings within “The Workin’ Life,”
“We’re all born passionate people,
the daily grind can trap us down;
but when you heart tells you it wants to fly,
You’d better heed the sound.”

And, she does.

If there is a theme uniting the songs of I Am Only the Moon, it may well be ‘independence of choice’ Appearing central to the album, independence of thought, decision, values, and experience appears within the solitary “Old Familiar Song,” the searching “Day After Day,” the revealing “Green Eyes,” and the longing “No Direction Home.” And elsewhere.

Having been on her musical journey for twenty-some years, Jackson is most obviously fiercely independent. At times, as in “Superstar” and “The Wrench,” she appears to revel in her chosen solo state. Elsewhere, she reaches out to companionship, to community: “I see you coming from a mile away, I see your thoughts on your face: I’ll sing harmony, let you take the lead and we’ll get to the same place,” she sings within “I’m Awake,” while “All the Miles” reveals, “I drive myself but I’m not alone, I feel you near me most of the time.” Companionship is similarly desired within the lyrics and moods of “Photographs” and “Christmas in the Dark.”

These songs are beautifully arranged. Depending on the needs of the song, the sounds of mandolin (Shane Guse), violin and viola (Alison Corbett and Wendy Wright), pedal steel (Steve Wood), piano and organ (Arun Pal), and banjo (Billy Nicoll) appear.  A few songs feature electric guitar (Rob Deyman, Joe Dunn, and Jackson), but Jackson’s acoustic remains prominent.

Jackson’s twelve songs are sufficiently impressive to make I Am Only the Moon one of the year’s finest roots/Americana recordings. The CD only bonus tracks, “Talk to Me Devil, Again” and “Whip-Poor-Will” presented unvarnished with Chris Boyne, are appropriate to the album’s mood. Borrowed from Magnolia Electric Co./Song: Ohia, these Molina songs provide suitable ‘icing’ to Jackson’s introspective and revealing construction.

I now have eight Lynn Jackson albums on my shelves. I always have my eye open for others, and I hope to eventually hunt them down. I don’t listen to those albums nearly often enough (dang you roots artists for keeping me busy!), but as when I grab a CD from Eliza Gilkyson (and of whom Jackson frequently reminds me), Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kim Richey, and Gretchen Peters—to name four favourite artists more familiar to most than Jackson—I am never disappointed as I pour a dram and give a late night listen.

Join me some night.

Not on the album…if only! “Our Lips Are Sealed”

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