Miss Jenny and the Howdy Boys
Jenny Pape leads a five-piece band from Carbondale. Where? This small town is in southern Illinois; I once spent a couple of days passing through on a bicycle. As I did my laundry and got my steed serviced it didn’t seem like a hot bed of roots music, maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough or simply dazed from dodging 18 wheeled coal trucks. Miss Jenny and pedal steel player, Dakota Holden, wrote or co-wrote the 12 tracks on this country americana album. Fortunately the use of the genre ‘americana’ is the ‘get out of jail card’ that covers the fact that you’ll find some tracks of soul, rock and western swing here.
Pape has a clear, characterful and mellifluous voice that lights up the album; whilst she’s handy on acoustic guitar she’s expertly backed up by a band that includes an upright bass, electric guitar, drums and the afore mentioned pedal steel. We start with I Used To Call You Mine, a country two-step with flashes of pedal steel and a solid rhythm of bass and drums before an easy paced guitar solo by Kyle Triplett complement Pape’s vocals. Years From Now continues the country genre with Triplett gently picking the banjo as the rest of the band play softly in the background while Pape laments her love life. Superb.
Eventually we get to What Makes You A Fool, a foot tapping western swing tour de force. You’ll imagine a heaving dance floor under the steady gaze of the band on a raised platform. With such a set of splendid tubes it is no surprise when Pape delivers a 60s soul ballad What Took Me So Long. Her heartfelt and passionate vocals are pure Dusty Springfield in their intent as she opens her heart backed by a female chorus. Sweet Release shows they can do something a little edgier as a twangy guitar casts dark shadows over a mysterious voodoo infused rhythm.
This is a beautifully crafted album where the arrangements, playing and vocals are spot on. It’s hard to place them as regards other acts but Eilen Jewell comes to mind as they cover all bases of roots music perfectly with an emphasis on country. Highly recommended.