Lynn Jackson Sweet Relief

Kitchener songstress Lynn Jackson’s second album, the follow-up to 2004’s well-received Night Songs, is an effortlessly laidback collection marked throughout by an air of elegant simplicity. Recorded "in a cozy little shack on Lake Erie,” such graceful austerity lends itself well to Jackson’s particular hybrid of folk/country/blues. Co-produced with renowned multi-instrumentalist Dan Walsh (Fred J. Eaglesmith), Sweet Relief’s straightforward arrangements provide the ideal setting for Jackson’s similarly unpretentious lyrics and lilting vocals. Word and voice come together particularly well on the elegiac ballad "The End,” written for the late Matt Osborne, as well as on "Raining on Our House,” a plaintive tale of a broken spirit. And, though Jackson’s higher-register voice sometimes seems at odds with some of the blues-ier fare on offer, it is well-suited to the upbeat country rock treatment given Leonard Cohen’s "Tower Of Song” and the sweet country lament of "Forecast.” For his part, Walsh offers effective musical accompaniment on every song here, whether playing guitar, dobro or drums (to name a few). Canadian folk legend Willie P. Bennett also appears on seven of Sweet Relief’s 11 tracks — his harmonica and mandolin playing adding timely atmospheric touches throughout this understated gem. (Busted Flat)