Jennifer Tefft Band – Cutting for Stone
Jennifer Tefft hails from Massachusetts. She got her start busking in Cambridge. Since that time she’s matured and released several albums. You can hear that maturity and experience in both the songwriting and the performance here. It’s obvious that Tefft is no new-comer just starting out in her career. The range of musical sounds and textures here is fairly wide. There is a lot of bluesy rock, but there are things that bring in influences ranging from country and jazz to Klesmer. The vocal performance brings a real sense of genuine emotion and passion. More than anything, that’s what makes this work so well.
The first song is titled “Rollercoaster,” and the opening bit of strangeness doesn’t really add much to it. When it turns out to the song proper, though, it’s a great hard rocking, bluesy jam. The vocals deliver a lot of power and emotion. There is a bit of country edge to “Cooler Than You.” The chorus brings something like Klesmer music to it. It’s an unusual cut, but it works really well.
The next song bears the title “Silence,” and the silence is broken with a noisy introduction, but it drops back to a mellower mode for the verse. The chorus is powered up and rocking.
“Air” seems to look back toward the female singer songwriter, folky styled music that was so popular in the 1970s. Tefft could stand next to the giants of that era. At least that’s what this song seems to indicate. The strings bring a lot of magic to the piece.I am in love with the evocative vocals on “Let Me Be.” It’s another slow one and rather mellow, but it has more slow rock sound than the last song did. There is a rocking section that feels like a natural extension of the first part. Tefft’s vocals on “Follow Me Through” are purely soulful and powerful. It is more of a blues rocker, and it’s very effective. In a lot of ways, it’s one of the strongest pieces of music on show here. The lyrics on “Too Late” are evocative, full of regret. The vocals do a great job of bringing longing to go with those vocals. There is anger here, along with the sour feeling of something good dying because of what someone else did. This is a hard edged blues rocker that is strong.
There is a soaring, dreamy kind of vibe to “Breathe.” It’s packed with Americana and style. The vocals are particularly strong here. I can make out some hints of jazz on it. It’s a great way to bring the set back down to Earth to end because it’s a slower, mellower song, despite that soaring feeling.
Jennifer Tefft and her band are carving out their own unique slice of the musical landscape. It has familiar patterns and bits of brick and mortar at its core. The way they shape and build the sounds, though, is all theirs. I don’t think this would work nearly as well with a different singer. Tefft’s range of styles is impressive. It’s the way she seems to really let her emotions shine through that makes this work so well, though.
9 of 10
Mary Angela Tobin