Jenny Lou Drew
Sometimes an artist’s vocal stylings can be a barrier that blocks the way to a fuller appreciation of their musical or lyrical abilities (looking at you, Geddy Lee and Bruce Springsteen). But the opposite can also be true. Case in point: the transcendent singing of Jenny Lou Drew. On her second LP, Rockbiter, the Pittston singer/songwriter plays around with several constructs, including Freewheelin’ finger-picked folk, swaying, Orbisonian balladry and pedal-steel-swathed alt-country. But these are details you might not notice until the fourth or fifth listen, when it dawns on you that your speakers are now haunted forever by the benevolent spirit of Drew’s voice. When she sings, “There’s always room / In my heart and my head / For my best friend,” on the opening track, “Porcelain Doll,” her deep, rough-hewn tenor is as empathetic as a lullaby. Rockbiter is full of emotionally charged lines like this, but Drew never gives in to the temptation to belt them out like an American Idol contestant. Whether she’s honoring the final days of a hospice patient or eulogizing a friend who overdosed, she knows decibels don’t always translate to intensity of feeling. The softer she sings, the harder it all hits.