The Love Hotel

It’s said that luck is where preparation meets opportunity. But luck didn’t get local singer Jill Jack this far. Four albums? Nah, that ain’t luck. Somebody loves Jill’s stankin’ draws. Otherwise, she’d be back working as an executive assistant to the VP of some dream-deadening corporation.

The Love Hotel is Jack’s latest journey through American musical styles. Aptly titled, songs such as “So It Goes” and “My Lost Dreams” make passionate attempts at describing the highs and lows of the struggles of common folk. It’s a steady collection 15 cuts deep, and the greatest consistencies lie in Jack’s lyrics.

She’s willing to sing below the surface, so to speak. In other words, she avoids the clichés that make other rock and folk songs seem typical and contrived. This helps because Jack’s voice is reminiscent of other singers. It’s easier for local artists to be labeled when they sound like someone else. But Jack, a solid alto, is more of a mix. You hear elements of Natalie Merchant, Sheryl Crow, and the stories told are reminiscent of Mellencamp tunes.

“The path that you may lead/After the visit that you’ve made/Loneliness may follow/but it’s courage that you’ve gained.” A variety of electric and acoustic guitars may be an adjustment if your ears are conditioned by the bass-heavy tones of contemporary music. Also, with certain songs leaning heavily on philosophy (“One People”) and others telling stories (“Miss Emmy Lou”), The Love Hotel tends to tailor itself to specific moods. I wouldn’t count these as creative drawbacks, but I wonder whether Jack chooses to write directly to the sensitivities of her most loyal supporters.

For the most part, Jack doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Instead, she adds new seasonings to a known menu, and continues to serve consistent music.

Jill Jack performs Saturday, Dec. 8 at Memphis Smoke, 100 S. Main, Royal Oak, in celebration of the CD release.

E-mail Khary Kimani Turner at [email protected].

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