March 7-13, 2003
Jennifer Nash is into her third (fifth?) band lineup in seven months. In others this might seem like floundering, but in this notable arrival it seems like focusing and even flowering. Adjustments are inevitable, since she can't be plugged into any formula -- after stewing for some comparison, the best I can do is a lame hookup to Stevie Nicks, based on the adenoidal penetration of her voice and the baroque quality of her very consistent songwriting. But I like Nash a lot better, because her mystery is earthier and realer, yet she's completely modern. I saw her at some Hollywood nook a few months ago, and got hit once again by the way she takes you on unusual journeys where the melodies curl back on themselves and the emotional narratives, though personal, feel universal. The new format: keyboards, electric cello, bass and drums. (And when Nash plays the accordion, it doesn't come off as a gimmick.)
- Greg Burk
02/17/03 - 03/02/03
Club Reviews: Jennifer Nash
The Mint - Los Angeles
The Players: Jennifer Nash, lead vocals, keyboards; Billy Malpede, keys, musical director; Woody Aplanalp, guitar, backup vocals; John Avila, bass, backup vocals; Guenevere Measham, cello, backup vocals; Svend Lerche, drums.
Material: Jennifer Nash's brand of pop, rock, jazz and cabaret flawlessly fuses to create what is truly original alternative music. A stunning accomplishment by a gifted artist, Nash's material has as many nods to Josh Groban as it does to Tori Amos. Her songs are never boring, much less predictable; instead, they courageously explore new territory that often surprise the listener.
Musicianship: To execute this unique approach to music composition, Nash assembled a pro group of players. With exotic strains of Measham's cello and Malpede's luscious keyboard work, each song has a signature sound. Nash has the ability to combine styles as she sings, projecting near-operatic pitches and then nicely making a transition to falsetto with a rock edge. When Nash sits at the piano, she transforms into an intimate songstress with engaging results that keep the crowd captivated.
Performance: Nash created an image of constant energy and motion. Moving from one side of the stage to the other, she seemed almost out of control -- but yet, totally contained. This contrast brought an excitement to her performance that matched her music. A beautiful young nymph, Nash also projected a vulnerability that made everything she did endearing.
Summary: Jennifer Nash is one of a kind. An artist of immense talent and vision, she will cleanse your musical palate. Her ingenious combination of styles and genres, from show tunes to soulful ballads, creates an unforgettable experience. She is an artist with an inspired imagination, who presents a show that is a must-see for anyone who might appreciate a new musical attack.
- Bernard Baur
July 12-18, 2002
Jennifer Nash, Act of Faith at Rocco.
For a young singer who's played only a few gigs (for anybody, really), Jennifer Nash has a lot together. The basics: a distinctive version of modern, sinus-cavity vocal resonance; a mess of strong, variegated melodies; a great face with big teeth. What puts her over the top is a rather amazing chamber orchestra led by keyboardist David Francis, which wheezes through tangos, gentle meditations and soaring ballads with decadent ease. As her waving fingers accentuate passionate pissed-off takes on the love experience ("I'm choking on your exhaust"), Nash emits a perversely attractive air of maculated privilege; you may feel the urge to spank her. But you'll definitely feel something. She goes first, sometime after 10; then comes Act of Faith, a pop-rock unit that shares Oingo Boingo bassist John Avila and universal guitarist Wooody Aplanalp with Nash. Singer Rick Garcia and friends distinguish their snappy, hooky energy with smart touches of noise -- worth sticking around for.
- Greg Burk
Burbank singer songwriter takes a unique journey to first live performance
BURBANK -- If Jennifer Nash seems a little wary lately, she has good reason. The Burbank singer/songwriter will debut songs from her recently completed CD, "Lay It On," on Sunday night in Hollywood, at her album release party. It will also be the first time she has played her music in front of an audience. "I guess I've gone about this backwards," she said between laughs over the phone. Most musicians start playing in small clubs, restaurants or weddings. Then, if they gather a following and enough songs they might go into the studio and record a CD. However, Nash went into the studio first and, over the course of a year, made a recording that has made believers out of those who have heard it. A melodic mix whose genre is difficult to pinpoint -- touches of classical bump up against rock and bounce back -- it also has been her calling card in putting together a band to help her play her music live. John Avila, who played bass for Oingo Boingo, heard the CD and couldn't believe Nash had never played live. He has signed up for her band, and is helping guide the singer in the transition from recording artist to performing artist.
Nash has found having the right people around her is making a big difference in dealing with stage fright. Pressure is nothing new to the young artist. In her day job as a film-music editor -- she has worked on "pearl Harbor," "runaway bride," and "high fidelity" -- she has had to work under tight time constraints and long hours. "Sometimes at the end of a project, I feel like moving to Ojai and running a coffee bar," she confessed, giggling.
Born in Texas but raised all over Southern California, Nash began playing on a neighbor's piano when she was 12. Eschewing lessons for picking her own way around the keys, she came home one day to an old upright piano in her living room. Her neighbor thought the young girl had talent and decided to buy Nash her own instrument. "I couldn't believe it," she reflected. "She died of cancer a year later, and the night I found out I made a pact between myself, that piano and Arlene (her neighbor) that I would keep at it." When she takes the stage Sunday night, there might be an unseen audience member, smiling and proudly swaying in the wings. Angel wings, that is.
Obvious chanteuse? No. Valley girl, you'd think, the San Diego-raised version. (She lives in Sherman Oaks.) When Nash talks, the words spill out like jellybeans -- every fifth one is like, and ohmigods and weirds are in regular rotation. She has zero pretensions. Her parents are businessfolk. She's tall enough to pick pears without a ladder. She makes good money as a movie-music editor. Can this be an artist?
Yes, and then some. Nash has just unleashed her first album, named after herself, on (honest) Fluffy Puppy Records. Half of it is brilliant, and the rest is at least deep. A first hearing can knock up realizations: This is how songs can be, without most of the pop filters and preconceptions. Nash is naive enough to revel in head-sticking melodies and bold-faced drama, yet sophisticated enough to try unusual sounds, structures and subjects just because the road feels right.
Her voice is unusual, too. Nasal, vibrato-touched. Penetrating. Full of white soul without being bathetic. Not distant, but slightly out of reach. It's her voice, nobody else's. And she says it's gained range recently since she stopped smoking weed every day.
Nash has amazing musicians around her at all times -- partly because they're attracted to her talent, and partly because she can sort of afford to pay them. One pianist on her record is David Troy Francis, whose harmonic somersaults and blues feel lend fantastical ruffles to the jabbing, staggering "Pockets." Another pianist, on record and live, is Billy Malpede, a versatile film composer and arranger. Still another pianist is Nash herself -- "It always came naturally. I didn't take lessons." She also looks and sounds good playing accordion. And her bassist and backup singer is usually the very remarkable John Avila, known for his work with Oingo Boingo.
Oingo what? The Boingo tinge is undetectable in Nash's music, although she describes the '80s nuevo wavo outfit as "my maiden influence." A friend dragged her as a teen to one of the notorious Boingo Halloween shows, and bulbs started lighting up in her head. The transition to songwriterhood took a few years, as she considered careers in bioengineering and film scoring: "I was just being stupid. I didn't know that you could work as a musician without having a college degree in music."
Then there were developments. It seems Nash had always responded strangely to music that connected with her.
"I would feel scared and frustrated, and cry, and feel confused. I would listen to [Oingo Boingo leader] Danny Elfman's film scores, and go to his concerts, and listen to his records, and I would just freak out." While she's remembering, she's looking at the floor, actually wringing her hands and vibrating. "I would start writing pages and pages in my journals. And I would smoke packs and packs of cigarettes. I didn't know what to do about it for years. I thought that there was something wrong. I just kept writing and writing, and then I finally came to the conclusion that it was like someone talking to me, and I was mute, like I couldn't talk. And I thought, Well, I have to respond. And I went home and started playing the piano, and I started making up all this shit! And I was like, 'Yay, I'm a musician!'"
Through the persistency she inherited from her salesman dad, Nash landed an early job as Elfman's film-scoring assistant. And she thinks that the structures of movie music have had a big impact on her own writing. She explains how a shift in time signature is often required in order to squeeze scraps of melody into segments of film narrative; she began to think unconsciously in the same terms. Nash's wonderfully mysterious "Lay It On," for instance, mostly surges in a schoonerish 3/4 -- a meter she likes, saying her songwriting intersects with some stylings of the Mexican pop singer/accordionist Julieta Venegas -- but the song's instrumental bridge moves to 5/4. It's the kind of thing she wasn't even aware of till people started to write up her charts. And her rhythms have their own twists, even when she's in 4/4: Her hookiest tune, "Down on the Highway," accomplishes a magical transformation of hesitation into momentum.
Cinema sneaks into Nash's lyrics, too. You're right, the Gypsy-ish "Angelina" is about Jolie -- "I had a huge crush on her." And the loopily arpeggiated, nightmarish "Falling" is an image/reality meditation on John Cusack, for whom Nash did sound work on High Fidelity. Visualizations are omnipresent; she's allusive, poetic, borderline psychedelic.
That is, her art is the near opposite of the self she presents to the everyday world. When Nash performs, though, the abstract and the corporeal combine well. She's all shoulders and closely waving fingers, eyes often closed, as if imagining both her music and its effect. Avila and Malpede balance her; drummer Svend Lerche supplies loose-limbed support; cellist Guenevere Measham draws straight lines through the middle with her string parts and vocal harmonies. People listen closely and applaud a lot.
Avila has known Nash for 10 years, since before she started writing songs. One day she asked him if he wanted to hear some of the stuff she was working on; when he did, he was rather stunned. "She has a unique way of thinking, and she's a hard worker," he says. He describes her first show, at Rocco nearly two years ago: "She could hardly look at the audience, but I felt some kind of buzz. At her second and third gigs, people were coming back, and new ones were showing up." Asked to capsulize her appeal, Avila struggles, then finds the word: "Charm. She radiates huge amounts of charm, and shyness is a part of that."
You get the feeling it's something she'll never lose.
Jennifer Nash's quintet appears at the tiny and undoubtedly crowded Hotel Cafe on Friday, February 6; her trio plays the Derby on Wednesday, February 11. Nash's CD is available only at her shows and at www.cdbaby.com.
ENTERTAINMENT TODAY >> Hot Dates
Jennifer Nash - Harvelle's - Thursday, April 15
I've been singing her praises for a while now, and if you still haven't caught this amazingly impossible-to-genrecize singer/songwriter, well, shame on you. Suffice it to say that you have never seen anything like her before, but if you take the chance, I'm willing to bet that you, too, will become one of her camp followers, a group that is getting larger by the show. Eventually, the general public will catch on, but here is your chance to get in on the ground floor of Nash-O-mania. Be there, or be cubed. (PA)
Reprinted from: http://www.ent-today.com/hotdates/apr04/hd040904_jn.htm
Muzik Reviewz - July 2004
CD Review - 'Jennifer Nash' self titled
by Mary Rudy
Jennifer Nash is certainly a force to be reckoned with when it comes to her music, talent and musicianship that she possesses on her CD 'Jennifer Nash'. Her vocals are exceptional, on a vocal spectrum she is at both ends of the high-low ranges. And it's obvious that she has plenty to spare when it's necessary.
Being that our world and/or life isn't always what we want it to be and there is always difficult situations coming up in our day to day lives, therefore that gives you one good reason to listen to the 'Jennifer Nash' self titled CD if only to be able to relate to the messages she is giving us in her music.
The musicianship behind Jennifer is of the highest caliber, but that is to be expected when you have someone like Jennifer Nash as the front person. And those musicians are: Jennifer Nash - Lead Vocals, Piano and Accordion Billy Malpede - Piano, Keyboards and Vocals; Guenevere Measham - Cello and Vocals; John Avila - Bass and Vocals; Jason Chesney - Bass; Svend Lerche - Drums.
Jennifer will give you a whole new look at classical music, she has the ability to take a song that has the sounds in the beginning as a classical tune and turn that song into a classical with somewhat of a rock edge. I mean Jennifer Nash can belt the notes out with no troubles at all. She possesses a very strong and vibrant vocal and yet at the same time there is sweetness about her voice, I am convinced that she could probably stand up to anything when it comes to vocals.
Jennifer has the ability to express her emotions in her music with her voice, which some singers can and some can't. Her piano solos are beyond excellent, and her accordion talent is superb. Listen closely, cause this lil' lady can get down on those keys. This whole CD is filled with music coming from the heart and soul, talent and musicianship galore.
BOTTOM LINE: High Caliber of Talent.....Musicianship that demonstrates the players expertise of the instrument.....Vocals to capture your heart and soul......and messages in each song that all of us can relate to....Visit the Jennifer Nash Website at: http://www.jennifernash.net , where you can add this splendid CD 'Jennifer Nash' to your cd collection.
Article reprinted from: http://www.muzikreviewz.com/CDreviews/JenniferNash_selftitled.html
Jennifer Nash - Finding Her Own Voice
by Daniel Schweiger
If songs are meant to take us on a journey of emotional discovery, then listening to Jennifer Nash perform is like going on a darkly beautiful couch trip. Stories of broken relationships, impure thoughts, and turbulent friendships are woven with beautiful melodies and unique instruments. And when Nash's emotions finally release themselves, her voice carries a cathartic beauty that's like nothing out there on LA's alternative music scene.
Having drawn a loyal, ever-growing fan base with her electrifying local performances, Jennifer Nash has now released her first, self-titled CD. Its collection of mesmerizing tunes is unclassifiable, not that Nash could categorize her songs if she tried. "My music changes daily, and I usually borrow the description that the last person gave me. Someone said today that i sounded like a cross between Gwen Stefani and Kate Bush. I think that sounds good," she laughs.
Nash's sets have attracted such talented players as Simply Red's Heitor Pereira, the Darkness' Dan Hawkins, and former Oingo Boingo members John Avila and Steve Bartek, many of whom are also featured on Nash's album. And in such tunes as "Down on the Highway", "Pedophile", and "Falling", Nash channels her and her friends' life lessons into tone poems. "I hope to be able to write a song when I'm in a good mood, but right now it comes from being sad or confused about something, and I'll work those feelings out through my songs," she says. "Some of them get angrier as they go along, and conclude in an unresolved way. But I think I do that on purpose. I'll rarely play the last chord that should be there. My songs are a 'to be continued' thing."
Always inquisitive in nature, Nash thought she'd become a scientist before turning to singing, even majoring in genetics before reading a life-changing article about the film composer (and former Oingo boingo frontman) Danny Elfman. "It falsely claimed that he couldn't rad or write music. But that was the thing I picked out of that article, that I could be a musician if i had the determination. And that was it."
Nash learned well, working alongside the likes of Ennio Morricone and Hans Zimmer as a music editor, "I wanted to be a film composer, but then i realized how much that sucked!" she laughs. "My goal now is to establish myself as a singer. I still want to do movies if possible, but that's based on attracting filmmakers who know me through my sound."
Perhaps the key to Nash's intoxicatingly unique sound and soul-searching lyrics is the fact that she may never figure herself out. "I don't know how people will see me as a person when they listen to the album. But I hope they'll get a sense of how to deal with a relationship they're in, or to do what they really want to do. because that's what music did for me before I started writing it. it motivated and inspired me, and I want people to feel that, to know that they can do anything."
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