Good Tunes for a Good Cause

Album Review – Jen Miller – You And I (release: August 8, 2012 - independent)

From the opening road-trip shuffle of “On My Own” to the thoughtful sway of the closing “I’ve Got It All”, Vancouver’s Jen Miller exhibits a clear talent for song writing on her album, You And I. Miller wrote and produced the album at Echoplant Studio, The Hive and Rain City Records earlier this year, with some help from Curtis Buckoll (engineering, mixing) and Stu McKillop (mastering).

Hailing originally from Nova Scotia, Miller’s East Coast roots shine through in the violin and windy balladry of songs like “Say”. That said, this girl is proud to now call Vancouver home, thankful for having “Vancouver skies and the ocean’s touch”.

The songs on You And I seem to provide a snapshot of where Miller is at this point in her life. With themes ranging from empowering resolve (“On My Own”), to regret that leads to newfound personal fortitude (as in the radio-ready “You And I”), You And I has all the trappings of a young singer-songwriter finding her voice, as well as herself. “The One” is a simple, blushing sketch of newfound love, when one’s head is in the clouds and feet are off the ground.

The well-travelled, folky road that is the acoustic, singer-songwriter genre is riddled with casualties who’ve failed to differentiate themselves. While You And I doesn’t exactly tread new ground, Miller largely manages to stay away from the boring safety of folk convention. Even though her lyrics are plain and need no deciphering, this comes off as a strength rather than a failing. Her songs are clear and lean, which is heightened by the album’s balanced production.

You And I is a strong first full-length effort. Miller seems to have all the pieces required to make some noise in the industry, with her genuine voice and impressive ear for composition and song structure. Whether she chooses to further refine her easy-listening folk approach, or take some side roads into more adventurous territory, it will be interesting to see where she goes from here.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jen this summer, and she gave me a bit of background on her latest effort. Rather than paraphrase, I’ll let Jen fill you in with her own words:

“Sometimes we don’t know how we can make a difference in the world. Sometimes bad things or unexpected things happen in our lives. At first, making this CD was just about getting my music heard, expressing myself and sharing what I feel in hopes that someone relates. But after some time, I realized I could do more with this album. So for every album sold, I am donating a portion to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. My two little nephews Ryan and Kyle both live with this disease. As of now, there is no cure but with education and research, I believe that we will find one. So this is one small thing I can do to help my family and anyone else out there living with this disease.”

You can purchase You And I right here. You can learn more about cystic fibrosis and how you can help at Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, as well as Cystic Fibrosis Canada and its Vancouver Chapter.