Ten fingers separate Jennifer Greer from the vast majority of singer/songwriters out there. Ten fingers and a soul to match, for though there be hundreds who can sing and a portion of those who can actually compose songs worth hearing, few combine those talents with their instruments to create that elusive new whole, that magical sense which makes you stop what you are doing and take note. Greer, on The Apiary, does just that.
Invited introduces you to the CD, soft and odd piano chords laid beautifully under a voice made for the music, and by the end of the short intro you feel as if maybe Laura Nyro has resurfaced and recaptured a bit of what made her early works so captivating. Honey Bee puts that to rest quickly, the piano driving the light rocker with ease and allowing Greer's voice to shine. Indeed, it is the interplay of voice(s) and piano which brings the song to life (superb and sparse guitar a la the lead from Tom Petty's Breakout is pure icing on the cake, thanks to Warren Amerman who also recorded, mixed and mastered the album). From there, the album reaches out in a number of directions: The theatrical and stark Darkling, which rides the strength of out-there jazz piano and searing guitar to the surprise anti-war chant "I don't know what we are fighting for" before the end; the melodic pop of Never which is right up there with the best that Carly Simon ever produced; Origami Birds, presented as only a tone poem should be with that now seemingly familiar and dramatic Greer piano set off perfectly by cello; the pounding and upbeat jazz/rock Satellite which proves Greer fits well in a combo setting as well as solo; and the short opus/tribute to Shackleton's Men, who spent two years attempting to survive before rescue.
Jennifer Greer deserves a pat on the back (or better yet, massive sales) for The Apiary. She created a musical vision, self produced it (probably with help from Rotary Records' Amerman), arranged the vocals and kept her music within the confines necessary to make this a CD worthy of attention. She is out there as you read this, working the streets as well as lounges and music halls, promoting what she believes is her best work yet and maybe even up there with the music of Tori Amos and Nora Jones (it is). All she needs is a break. She knows it. After hearing her play piano and sing, I know it as well.
If (when) she gets a break, her masterful piano playing will be the reason—or her voice—or her songwriting. Actually, it will be all three, plus the heart she puts into her music. It comes out through those ten magical fingers. And it is magic.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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