Jen Lane This Life of Mine

Jen Lane This Life of Mine
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You can hear highways travelled and prairie landscapes in Jen Lane's latest release, This Life of Mine, which makes sense. The Saskatoon-based Lane has been somewhat quiet since her last solo record (2010's For the Night), sidelined with an ankle and foot injury that saw her spending a fair bit of time recovering in her prairie home, but when she was ready to record again, Lane hit the road, travelling to Kelowna, BC to lay down the tracks in the acclaimed Bottega Studio alongside producer John MacArthur Ellis and her partner and musician John Antoniuk.

The first two tracks, "Waiting for you Baby" and "Moving On," show off Lane's crystal clear vocals and set up the country-roots-folk-Americana vibe she's known for, one that weaves the album together with mandolin, slide guitar and honky-tonk piano. At times, that country sound can take over too much and come off a bit over-the-top, as on the old-timey track "1st Day of Spring," which preoccupies itself with a slide whistle, kazoo solo and a vibraslap, for example.

Lane shines, though, in the moments she tones down that bright country sheen to just a hint of twang, and lets the songs breathe; the soaring vocals on "Fools" and the simple yet effective instrumentals on "Hollow Heart" — two of the slower jams on the album — are just two moments in which the lyrics come off sincere and heartfelt, as they should. The album's final and title track is an upbeat, sing-along tune, a well-crafted bookend to Lane's excellent return. (Independent)