Pop | Rhapsody TV
November 10, 2011
Minneapolis singer-songwriter Nikki Jean spent years singing backup for Lupe Fiasco, King Britt and others before commanding the spotlight on Pennies in a Jar. Weaving through girl-group harmonies ("My Love") and Philly soul ("How to Unring a Bell") with audible delight, she's clearly having a ball, and her playfulness is infectious. This charming debut includes contributions from Bob Dylan (who co-wrote "Steel and Feathers"), Burt Bacharach (who co-wrote "Pennies in a Jar") and Lupe and Black Thought, who add raps to "Million Star Motel."
Joni Mitchell's 1975 release is an experimental pop masterwork and proved that forward-thinking artists can connect with a mass audience (Summer Lawns went to No. 2). The classic "In France They Kiss on Main Street" kicks things off on a effervescent high, a feeling many of the jazzy tracks share. This "up" feeling complements the sense of unease in such cuts as "The Jungle Line" and "Edith and the Kingpin." This is an album where pastoral beauty and romantic moments collide with a smoggy malaise. Sadly, Mitchell's hold on the mainstream (but not her artistry) would start to diminish after this.