Jen Lane

This Life of Mine – 2016 (Poor Kitty)

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

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CDs by Jen Lane

Now five albums into a wide-ranging roots career, Saskatchewan, Canada's Jen Lane has found her comfort spot. "This Life of Mine," an album that goes from roots and country to rockin' grass touches, serves as a lively and inspired introduction to an artist unfamiliar to most.

Recorded in rural British Columbia environs, surrounded by meadows and alpacas, "This Life of Mine" is rooted in the Canadian folk-rock tradition that has its foundation in the likes of Bruce Cockburn, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Murray McLauchlan. Lane may remind one most of Lynn Miles, another Canadian songstress equally interested in the precarious balance of heart, hearth, health and art.

"Never Try to Love You," a bit Ani Difranco, a little Tracy Chapman, is one of the strongest cuts as the complementary power of lyric and voice simultaneously inspire and challenge. An acoustic-y romper "Shoe" is a standout, speaking to the oppressing weight of the drudgery of responsibility; banjo here from Jesse Padgett (The Trips) is a treat.

Celebrated producer John Macarthur Ellis (Barney Bentall, Ridley Bent, Doc Walker) has crafted a unified sound for the recording while allowing each number to emit its distinctive essence. The guitars of Lane, John Antoniuk, and Ellis himself are mixed to provide a solid base for Lane's songs, but they never intrude on their communicated intimacy.

A radio-friendly album, where radio remains friendly to artistic individuality, "This Life of Mine" embraces the trials of modern life with the rich, comforting blanket that is music. "My Man" and "Hollow Heart," songs back-to-back within the second half capture the album's essence ideally - we love, we share, we hope and when we are lucky, we trust in others completely.

The single, "Movin' On," captures the unifying theme best: "I'm flying with my happy thoughts, unraveling my stomach knots, giving thanks for all the good I've got and getting over it." We feel, we grieve, but we never wallow.

Oh, and if that isn't enough, Lane and her crew absolutely destroy Big Star's universal "Thirteen."