Talkinbroadway.com review of Look for Me 9/8/06 by Rob Lester
The first thing I did after playing Jenny Giering's debut solo album the first time was to simply play the whole thing again. There were a few reasons. On some songs, I had been paying attention to her vocal qualities at the expense of really concentrating on the material because I find her voice so attractive and emotional; it has a mix of vulnerability and strength that shouldn't co-exist but do. Other tracks set me to dwelling on certain melodic or lyric lines that grabbed me because they were especially intriguing, and I knew I had missed something in the middle. Several times, I just had trouble catching some words (the miking and diction aren't perfect, but the intelligent and precise word choices are worth the leaning in).
A few of the songs are familiar from in-person performances or earlier recordings: "I Follow" is on Audra McDonald's first CD; "I Can't Walk On" was on last year's N.E.O. (New, Emerging, Outstanding) multi-artist concert CD. Some listeners are familiar with Jenny's voice from the Windflowers album, the songs of Jerome Moross. Others know her as a musical theater composer (The Mistress Cycle, Caraboo: Princess of Javasu and others).
The material here is not from her theater work, but these are adult, emotional songs with clear attitudes and points of view. They tend to be reflective and examine a specific moment or mood. The opener is especially accessible ("Burning the Days") with a series of short phrases nicely balanced with longer, sustained notes later on as the song builds. "Sea Prayers" is one of Jenny's most attractive and evocative songs, with its celebration of true contentment, and she captures that feeling in her voice.
The title song is the only collaboration, featuring a sensitive lyric by Sean Barry, Jenny's husband, and is the only track just with piano accompaniment. Otherwise, Brendan Milburn of the band GrooveLily (who play on the CD, along with Tim Lefebvre on bass and guitarist Chris Tarrow) arranged and produced.
She makes a strong impact both as a writer and singer, thoughtful and passionate in both roles.
Jenny Giering, a composer, singer, and pianist, has received the 2002-2003 Clifton Artist in Residence at Harvard University, the 2002-2003 Dramatists’ Guild Jonathan Larson Fellowship, 2001 Constance Klinsky Prize for Excellence in the Composition of Musical Theater from Second Stage Company, a Meet the Composer grant, the 2000 Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award, and was the composer in residence at Sundance’s 2006 Ucross Residency. She also received the National Art Song Award and the 2005 National Music Theatre Network Director’s Choice Award for her musical The Mistress Cycle, written with bookwriter/lyricist Beth Blatt. The Mistress Cycle has also received workshops and readings at the Williamstown Theater Festival, Theatreworks/Palo Alto’s New Works Festival, Barrington Stage Company, a New York presentation in November 2004 and a sold-out run at the 2005 New York Musical Theatre Festival, both produced by the AWOL Theatre Project, Inc. Jenny wrote the score for Theaterworks/USA’s Island of the Blue Dolphins (book and lyrics by Beth Blatt) which toured for two sold-out seasons and for Arthur’s War, which is still in development at Theatreworks. She also wrote the score for The Hotel Carter (book and lyrics by Stephanie Fleischmann), which received a 2000 Frederick Loewe Award, and a 1999 Cameron Mackintosh Development Award from New Dramatists’. Currently, she is working on Caraboo a new musical with lyrics by Beth Blatt and book by Marsha Norman. Caraboo, which was developed at the National Musical Theatre Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center and at Theatreworks Palo Alto’s Writers’ Retreat and New Works Festival, was subsequently presented at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s 2005 Festival of New Musicals, and received a developmental production at the Goodspeed Opera House in May 2006, directed by Gary Griffin. Her one-act Still Life (book and lyrics by Emmy-Award winner David Javerbaum) has been produced by the Henlopen Theatre Project, Barrington Stage Company, and had a three-week run at the Bridewell Theatre in London. Recent projects include: Songs for An Unmade Bed (lyrics by Mark Campbell) at New York Theatre Workshop, Begin Again (libretto by Laura Harrington, commissioned by the Boston Music Theatre Project) and new commission for the Transport Group to premiere in 2007.
Jenny holds an AB in Music from Harvard & Radcliffe Colleges, and an MFA in Composition from the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at Tisch School for the Arts, New York University. She has appeared on many albums, including PS Classics’ release Windflowers: The Songs of Jerome Moross; and her song “I Follow” appears on Audra McDonald’s debut release Way Back To Paradise on Elektra/Nonesuch Records.
Upcoming projects include a solo record, produced by Brendan Milburn of Groovelily, Soft Corp., an electronica project with Brendan Milburn & James Sampliner, Saint Ex with writer Sean Barry, and The Scarlet Letter with Marsha Norman.