Jenny Whiteley comes by her musical talent honestly, and this album is a fitting celebration of her great fortune to have grown up in one of Canada's great musical families. Her father and uncle, Chris and Ken Whiteley, are well-known musical journeymen whose Original Sloth Band introduced jug band music to a generation of Canadians and whose Junior Jug Band, which included Jenny and brother Dan, was a staple of 1980s children's music. (It turns out there were even earlier musical Whiteleys, too: the 1920s Whiteley Orchestra, pictured on the album cover.)
Well steeped in the family biz, Whiteley went on to play in bluegrass band Heartbreak Hill, and has spent a lifetime performing. On The Original Jenny Whiteley, we get a sampler of music she's played over the years, from traditional bluegrass numbers like "Groundhog" and "In the Pines," to well chosen covers like Chris Coole's "100 Dollars," to originals like "Malade" and "Banjo Girl," co-written with husband Joey Wright.
Whiteley's voice is clear as a bell, and she sings with a tasteful simplicity that rarely shows off her great range (though we get an idea on "Oxford Town," where she effortlessly hits the highest highs and the lowest lows). The album features Sam Allison and Teilhard Frost (aka Sheesham and Lotus) on all manner of acoustic instruments, from guitar and fiddle to fretless banjo, jug, and jaw harp. The finale, "Things Are Coming My Way," is a family affair with Chris and Ken Whiteley on vocals, and a fitting way to round out an album infused with family, through and through. (Black Hen)