Jennifer Truesdale’s musical education proves to be no impediment towards making heartfelt music on her release Through the Circle. The ten track effort boasts eight original compositions and two covers from iconic songwriters Stephen Stills and John Fogerty and those two selections blend in well with the overall presentation. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Truesdale recruited some of the best musicians in the Boston area to help her realize the potential of this release and it results in one of the more effective albums you will hear in 2019. There are an array of influences running through this release yet Truesdale mixes them all together into a seamless musical thread certain to appeal to a cross-section of music lovers.
“I Need You Tonight” makes a great opener. There’s an assortment of instrumental elements powering the track guaranteed to draw listeners in, but the real star of the track, naturally, is Truesdale. Her clear and emotive voice doesn’t lack grit – instead, she mixes finesse along with fire, particularly during the chorus, and she does a first class job pushes the track along with her vocal skill. “Thinking of You” is a much more mellow effort, mid-tempo like the opener, and the tasteful guitar makes for an excellent counterpoint to her vocal. There are some nice piano touches strewn throughout the track and the vocal peaks are graceful and sensitive. The chorus payoff is exceptional and the bridge benefits from some understated backing vocals that never vie with Truesdale. There’s an excellent guitar break in the track as well.
“Daydreaming” returns listeners to bluesy ground and the song’s slow crawl is ideal for Truesdale’s vocal. They shift into a higher gear when they hit the song’s chorus and the backing vocals are a great match for what Truesdale offers. I particularly enjoy the rhythm section’s contributions to the song and it has a light touch that never overwhelms the song. It’s one of the album’s best originals and the horns during the song’s second half only punctuate its exceptional and artful punch.
Truesdale slows John Fogerty’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” into a meditative gospel track that should affect any listener. It’s an obvious direction to take the song and never strikes a false note. The interpretation reminds me of how Van Morrison, perhaps, might have approached the song and Truesdale throws herself into the performance with immense feeling. The anthemic “We Will Not Be Forgotten” includes voiceover quotes connected with Martin Luther King and has a much more pronounced gospel feel than we ever hear with the aforementioned covers. The backing vocals are key to the song’s success.
“Love the One You’re With” is a much more traditional cover than the earlier Forgerty cover and boasts some piercing guitar work. Truesdale’s vocal is especially urgent without ever becoming too melodramatic. I love the piano underlying the track and the additional melodic strength it brings to the performance and how Truesdale tosses some tasteful horns in for good measure. Through the Circle is one of the most complete efforts in a singer/songwriter vein that you’ll hear this year and has something for everyone – no small feat indeed.