Review: Lauren Jenkins’ Debut Album ‘No Saint’ Is a Gem in the Rough
In an industry where everyone obsesses over what is and isn't "country music," Lauren Jenkins' debut record No Saint has thrown the rules out the window, and emerged with a distinct sound that makes her impossible to define.
Jenkins is by no means a new artist — she's been touring since she was 15, and attending acting school in New York. After spending years on the road, playing anywhere she could, often performing at airports, she signed almost 6 years ago with Big Machine Records.
She's reminiscent of a young Sheryl Crow or John Mayer, artists who have maintained their longevity through always moving in new directions, and Jenkins is doing this with ease already. She could easily belong in the '90s era of rock, indie and country, but her sound feels fresh and relevant at the same time. Her ability to create these layers makes her one of the most exciting emerging artists of 2019, in a music landscape where more musicians are making rigid genres a thing of the past.
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The 27-year-old navigates easily from the instantly addictive "You'll Never Know" — a song that easily could have been plucked from Taylor Swift's acclaimed Red album — to heavier tracks like "Maker's Mark" that has all of the makings of classic country song: smoking, drinking and heartbreak in a refreshing new spin.
In the middle of the album comes the title track "No Saint," which is the driving force on this record, but that doesn’t mean other songs should be overlooked. With its soft melody, Jenkins' smoky voice combined with some of the most vulnerable song writing released recently makes "No Saint" the stand-out track of the project.
You can't quite pin down where Lauren Jenkins fits, and that's part of what makes this such a great record. The infusion of country, Americana, rock and indie has created something purely her own. No Saint delivers on its song writing that manages to be profound and nail topics that you don’t often hear on the radio, without the risk of being pretentious.
Jenkins knows how to make entrance with punchy "Give Up the Ghost," but the heart wrenching "Blood" is a grand finale. "Blood" was written for a family member going through a dark period, and she doesn't hold back. Jenkins has exposed her vices, flaws and the ups and downs of being a human.
Although a new face on the scene, she's already being recognized at the top of the industry. Influential deejay Bobby Bones had her on his show in January — her first radio interview. Jenkins was selected alongside Abby Anderson and Tenille Townes for Bones' Class of 2019 all-female lineup.
She's also been performing in Europe this spring as part of the Country2Country Festival, and no doubt earned respect and new fans from her ability to enrapture a foreign audience with nothing but her husky voice and a guitar. And on her album release day, she made her Grand Ole Opry debut in Nashville.
No Saint has only begun to scratch the surface of Jenkins' capabilities, you get the sense there are so many avenues she could go down next, this is an artist with infinite creative depth.
No Saint is available now.
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