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May 2014

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Eden Brent
Jigsaw Heart
Yellow Dog Records

Eden Brent

On Jigsaw Heart, her latest release on Yellow Dog Records, Eden Brent heads northeast from the Mississippi Delta to Nashville, reuniting with producer/guitarist Colin Linden (who produced her previous album, 2010’s Ain’t Got No Troubles) for this marvelously rich recording. Like her mentor and musical partner, the late Boogaloo Ames, Brent easily and effortlessly blends blues, soul, gospel, country, and R&B, creating a distinct musical gumbo that is all her own.

The opening track, “Better This Way,” walks that delicate line between soul and country that Ray Charles used to tread so well, coupling Brent’s piano and vocals and with strings….a perfect way to get things started. “Everybody Already Knows” picks up the tempo with a rocking boogie-woogie that Brent really has a good time with. The title track is next, one of Brent’s best compositions to date (one of those songs that other singers will be lining up to cover in the future), with a great heartfelt vocal, backed by Dan Dugmore’s pedal steel guitar.

“The Last Time” is another nice track with country leanings penned by Brent, but she also offers up the bawdy and bluesy “”Let’s Go Ahead And Fall In Love” and “Locomotive,” a fun and fast-paced track that’s not about a train, but about a woman with “loco motives.”

Brent also covers six diverse tunes on Jigsaw Heart. On several of them, she acknowledges some of her musical influences, paying tribute to Joan Armatrading on the funky R&B-based “Opportunity,” Nina Simone on the old standard “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free,” and the Texas singer Toni Price on Price’s “Get The Hell Out of Dodge.” She also brings to life the vivid imagery of Jimmy Phillips’ “Panther Burn,” and does a wonderful job on “Valentine,” the lovely ballad written by Linden and Tom Hambridge that closes the disc.

We already knew that Eden Brent was a talented performer, but Jigsaw Heart really shows her versatility and continuing development as a songwriter and interpreter. One thing I’ve always enjoyed about her recordings is that she never stands still. She’s always looking in different directions and working to expand her musical reach, but even as she does so, she’s still firmly rooted in the sandy loam of the Mississippi Delta. If you listen to any music at all, this disc should be in your collection.

--- Graham Clarke
Read Graham's blog

I finally had a chance to catch up with Eden Brent recently on the phone and she was knee-deep in the beginnings of her efforts to promote her new record, Jigsaw Heart, either in France or Italy, I don’t remember which. What I do remember telling Eden though is that she’s one of my favorite songwriters. Eden’s famous for wearing her heart on her sleeve and the songs that have come out of her experiences are those we all can relate to.

The new record, Jigsaw Heart, is one that deals primarily with the end of a relationship and her optimism for a better life to come. It’s probably her most deeply personal record to date and one that’s destined to be in my top 10 list at the end of the year. Let’s hit play and listen to what magic Little Boogaloo has whipped up this time.

From the beginning Eden swings for the fences with “Better This Way.” It’s a song that finds her lamenting the end of a very long-term relationship but coming to the realization that it is indeed, time to move on. “Leaving today…hurts me to say…its better…its better this way…better this way…than to keep saying sorry…better this way.” The finality of goodbye this time is hard, but for both her sake, and his, it's better this way. I’m happy for Eden for finding the strength to move on and the courage to write about it.

So of course she follows her heartfelt opening tune with the rollicking tune, “Everybody Already Knows.” Here we find Eden deep in the middle of a new relationship and well aware that indeed, everybody already knows. “Rumor mill is grinding…whether we like it or not…now that it’s grinding…ain’t no rumor going to make me stop…we can try to slow what we started…to save the soon broken hearted…but we ain’t got to tell nobody…they already now.” It’s Eden’s way to jump in head first and damn the consequences. This is a classic Eden Brent tune and one we’ve come to expect on any disc she records.

The title track, “Jigsaw Heart,” is next and this is another beautiful ballad from Eden. “If you’ve got what it takes…to un-break my heart…can you gather up the scattered pieces…when I fall apart…and put them back together in order…like they were from the start?...Jigsaw puzzle…puzzle of a jigsaw heart.” Let’s hope the cowboy angel that Eden sings about can do exactly that…put back together the puzzle of Eden’s jigsaw heart.

The hauntingly dark “Opportunity” is next and is evidently a homage to one of Eden’s influences, Joan Armatrading. Eden is offered the chance to participate in something that can’t be good. “What’s that for…I asked my man…eyes wide open…knowledge in my head…he, said…opportunity…worldwide adventure…money in the bank.” Nothing good is going to come of this but knowing Eden, she’ll see it through. Nina Simone is another of Eden’s many influences and she ventures forth to tackle “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” a Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas tune that Nina is known for. Eden sings it optimistically and appreciatively, “I wish could that I could break…all the chains holding me…I wish that I could say…all the things that I should say…say them loud, say them clear…for the whole wide world to hear…I wish I knew how it would feel to be free.” I hear some of Chris Carmichael’s violin in the background and really appreciate the feel it brings to the tune.

Another of Eden’s ballads, “The Last Time,” is next and sings wistfully of parting with her lover. “Ain’t it funny how the last time will last…and never slip into the past…the last time…I saw you for the last time.” He asked her to stay one last time and the resulting memory is a happy one for both of them to hang onto. And that’s the way it should be, for both of them.

“Panther Burn” is a staple in most any show that Eden does and I’m happy she included it on this record. “Panther burn…flashed me back to the place…where sandy loam is Delta gold…living with the land….is the nature of the man…time, is just a reason to grow old.” I really like this tune by Jimmy Phillips about the Delta where Eden grew up. So of course some more of Eden’s sassy attitude manifests itself on our next tune, “Let’s Go Ahead and Fall in Love”. “I fit you like an oven glove…playing hard to get...what are you’re waiting for…Let’s go ahead and fall in love.” It’s Eden at her very best and “Let’s Go Ahead and Fall in Love” is rapidly becoming one of my favorite tunes on this disc.

Eden’s famous for her rapidly changing mood and we again find her being very reflective on the cut that follows, “Tendin’ to a Broken Heart”. “Gin…with no vermouth…I hide in the shadows..where’s it’s hard to see the truth…my demons keep winning…while I’m tendin’…to a broken heart.” The guitar lead from Colin Linden adds just the right tone of desperation to Eden’s version of this tune. This is a well chosen cover and a great addition to Jigsaw Heart.

The up tempo “Locomotive” is the last original tune of Eden’s on the record and finds her on the move. “Locomotive…rolling on down the line…locomotive…running runaway…another whistle stop…she can’t stay.” Decidedly upbeat and something different on this disc for sure. Up next is a cover of “Get the Hell Out of Dodge,” a tune from Toni Price. “One thing that I do well…is get the hell out of Dodge.” Eden’s not prone to staying where she’s not wanted and it won’t take her very long to get the hell out of Dodge.

The final tune, “Valentine,” is a hauntingly beautiful love song of desperation written by Tom Hambridge and Colin Linden, and the perfect way to close out this record. “I never was good enough…to be a saint…never had a day…that took my name….always stumble over my best lines…can I be your Valentine?” “Valentine” is an amazing tune on a record full of great songs, and Jigsaw Heart is a record that Eden should be very proud of.

Jigsaw Heart is Eden’s best record to date and definitely a departure from the tone of her last two records for Yellow Dog. She’s written some deeply personal songs for this record and put her heart on display for all of us to see and hear. And of course that’s one of the reasons the Eden connects so directly with her audience. Good or bad, she’s going to put it all out there for us to listen to, bite our teeth into and share with her. Credit should go to Colin Linden as well, for coaxing this disc from Eden. I imagine more than a few tears were shed in the studio and Colin definitely got Little Boogaloo’s best, there’s no doubt about it.

--- Kyle Deibler



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