Published Jun 08, 2016Circuit des Yeux's Haley Fohr does a remarkable job of telling a powerful story in a short amount of time. In just 21 minutes and change, Fohr's self-titled debut as Jackie Lynn is a concise epistolary narration of the rise and abrupt fall of a country girl turned drug kingpin in Chicago.
Fohr's signature contralto moan takes on a fatalistic tone as she transforms herself into the album's tragic figure here. Opener "Bright Lights" lays the groundwork for the narrative: she is a girl leaving Franklin, Tennessee to "be queen of this city" and "find strength in all that's weak." Yet, despite these optimistic (albeit menacing) affirmations, the robotic drum machine present throughout the album sounds as if the beat is propelling Lynn towards unavoidable doom.
Fohr, a native of Indiana and based in Chicago, uses her intimate knowledge of the Windy City to set a detailed scene in "Chicken Picken," where she lists the directions to Lynn's coke spot in the south side amid a flurry of discombobulating synth notes similar to Pink Floyd's "On The Run." Lynn's exceptionally ominous delivery is surreal, and with the exception of final track "Jackie," the bouncy synths and swift drum tracks are in stark contrast with Lynn's deep cadence and street-wise persona, further bolstering the dreamlike effect.
What this album does extremely well, though, is convey the emotional reality of the protagonist using these moody electronics and tempo changes. The rhythm-less, drawn-out drone of "The Great Fight," which follows frantic revenge track "Franklin, TN," acts as an audible cue that something significant has occurred, without the use of first person narration.
The effectiveness of Lynn's unusual vocals cannot be understated, especially in the context of a fringe character such as a murderous female drug lord. In both scenarios, both musical Lynn and pusher Lynn make their marginalized presence felt using force: the former with deep resounding melodies; the latter, to borrow a line from "Franklin, TN," with "three bullets." (Thrill Jockey)