Jigsaw Heart

  • 2014
  • Jigsaw Heart
  • Eden Brent
  • Little Boogaloo Records/Yellow Dog Records

Description

This review originally appeared in Big City Blues magazine.  Reviewed by Steve Daniels

            2006 International Blues Challenge winner Eden Brent has been on an upward course trajectory ever since, including winning Blues Music Awards from the Blues Foundation as Acoustic Artist of the Year in 2009 and Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year in 2010.  She has become a valued fixture on most Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruises, where you may have seen her late at night at her best in the piano bar if you haven't been fortunate enough to catch her at a festival elsewhere.

            On her new album, Brent displays her strengths impressively.  I have to confess to being a sucker for a great female blues voice.  Bessie, Clara, and Mamie Smith, Ma Rainey, Ida Cox, and their myriad colleagues from the 1920s stir my pot, as do such outstanding contemporary chanteuses as Shemekia Copeland, Rory Block, Diunna Greenleaf, Janiva Magness, and Sista Monica Parker.  That list isn’t intended to be exhaustive; the intent, though, is to add Brent to the pantheon.

            Of the dozen songs on "Jigsaw Heart," six have been penned by Brent, and they mine the amatory territory from lament to lust to laughter .  Playing to her forte, she defies convention by opening the album with a slow tune, "Better This Way," a dirge for a lost love which nonetheless ends in pragmatic hope.  Switching gears, the upbeat "Everybody Already Knows" crows that "We can't cool it Papa, the fire's burning way too hot," emphasized by a tasty piano solo.  In a similar vein, "Let's Go Ahead and Fall in Love" trots out a host of risible euphemisms, some of them hoary ("I've got a little jelly roll to bake") and some innovative ("Stack me like the spoons in the silverware drawer").  Further on, "Locomotive" is a propulsive, jaunty train tune, and the cover "Get the Hell Out of Dodge" deploys producer Colin Linden's guitar in an infectious country blues format.

            There's a strutting gospel-flavored cut, "I Wish I Knew," and a smoky late night cabaret tune, "Tendin' to a Broken Heart," to provide variety, as well as covers of a Joan Armatrading song and another composed by Linden and Tom Hambridge.  An ensemble of proficient musicians provides expert support, particularly Linden, and Dan Dugmore on pedal steel.  Brent's piano prowess is evident, although her vocals are the spotlight of this outing.

            Really good stuff…!