Serpent Tales & Nightingales
Fan & Media Reviews: JOEY GUERRA, THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Serpent Tales & Nightingales, the new disc from Houston singer Jennifer Grassman, is her most ambitious work to date. It features lush production, soaring vocals and dark undertones. But the journey, she says, is ultimately uplifting . . . a swirl of lush arrangements and emotional, tumultuous lyrics. There are tempestuous pianos, crashing drums and velvety vocals . . . There's a spiritual quality to several songs on Serpent Tales & Nightingales, but it's not an overtly religious album. The music is artful and accessible. Red is whimsical and clever; The Search has a devious charm; and Praying to the Walls is anchored by searing guitar work (courtesy of Jason Greenberg, Grassman's husband). Mathias Blad, of Swedish metal group Falconer, contributes vocals to The Promise, a swooning duet fit for an epic love story. SEAN K. THOMPSON: Jennifer Grassman has taken the next bold step in her burgeoning musical career with her third CD, 'Serpent Tales & Nightingales.' New territories are charted as she experiments with genres, styles, multiple trackings, and duets. Each song of Jennifer Grassman's tells a story replete with plot, voice, and character; from the anger of 'The Search' to the posthumous playfulness of 'The Haunting' to the heartwrenching vows of 'The Promise,' she has proven once again that she is ready to take her place among the giant female vocal and songwriting talents of Amos, McKinnett, Bush, and Enya. A must-have addition to any collection. JOE MUSCARA: With her voice, her playing, and her obvious songwriting capabilities, Jennifer Grassman could easily stamp out simple pop tunes, and with the right machine behind her be very successful with them. But instead, she composes intricate, challenging, moving yet melodic songs that remain entertaining and accessible. She easily veers away from the pleasant and diatonic, evoking strong moods and reactions with powerful yet beautiful uses of dissonance especially in her piano playing, which alone could be enough of a talent to take her places. Some of her lyric stories remind one of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, even down to the titles ('Mad, Mad March Hare Acoustic Exposition'). Yet, there are moments where the piano playing is similar to the starkness of Terry Allen's Juarez suite. Her music similarly evokes multiple emotions simultaneously to these composers, where there is joy and humor found in darkness . . .