Don't Let the Name Fool You

Cowgirl Up (Indpendent)

By Kevin Gibson

When I popped Cowgirl Up into the CD player, I naturally expected country music to come shooting back out at me. My greatest fear was that it would be the brand of homogenized Country Music Television rubbish that I dislike so much.

This just in? Jenrose, formerly part of the Kentucky Bootleggers, is no pop-country diva. Instead, what I heard was a deft blend of styles and some solid folk songwriting. My first thought when "Crazy World" began to play was, "This is kind of jazzy."

But one can also hear soul and pop in her singer-songwriter/folk arrangements. And there are elements of country, but they are subtle. For example, the toe-tapper "Six String High" could easily be made into a country song indeed, the harmonica track and restrained guitar work nearly take it there, as does the accessible vocal melody. But Jenrose's vocal style really is folk at its core.

She notes in her online bio that while she draws inspiration from Loretta Lynn and Emmylou Harris, she also is influenced by Michelle Shocked and Patty Griffin. In fact, Jenrose mentions Griffin by name in "Six String High," which is a pleasant and pretty basic song about taking comfort in music. "Nothing's gonna fix me like a little six-string high," Jenrose croons with her warm voice.

But Jenrose can get blue with the best of them. The title track is a weepy ballad about getting through some difficult times in which she advises to "Buckle down, cowgirl up."

Jenrose also got plenty of help on this recording from plenty of folks who added some nice layers to the songs. Seventeen other people besides herself got credits in the liner notes for everything from sexy siren vocals to mandolin to cello to "fabulousness." Steiny and Odie were credited with "barking, coyote patrol." One would guess Jenrose has a couple of canine companions.

All in all, this is a nice, laid-back listen from the newly solo singer-songwriter, who has some songwriting awards on her resume already. One has to imagine that Jenrose will be seen at Lilith Fair before she will appear on CMT. Just a hunch.

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