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March 5, 2024

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Jenifer McLaren
Night Light (Nettwerk)

By: Sean Strauss

Canadian diva Jenifer McLaren's debut album, Night Light, is as accessible as adolescent female pop rock can get. Within the realm of Kate Bush, Dido, Sarah McLachlan, and Tori Amos without the metaphors, it would not be surprising to see Jenifer McLaren on the roster for an upcoming Lilith Fair. While appearing bare at first, Night Light opens up into an intricate display of music and emotion.

The ten-track set of Night Light is guided not only by Mclaren's comforting voice but also by a series of celestial piano tapestries woven together with ornamental violin strings. While most of the songs present a warm and fuzzy overtone, there is an overlooming presence of regret and longing camoflauged by the upbeat butt-shaker melodies. Towards the end of the album the mood shifts. On track 7, "Monday was Torture", the shades come down and the cigarettes get lit. A brittle-voiced McLaren spreads out a black-branched wintery landscape of love loss that could break and enter into anyone's memory closet. The piano ivories turn into snow drifts and the strings border on requiem material. By the time Night Light hits "Animals", all sweet girl personas are pulled out as the firing squad marches off of McLaren's tongue and pierce into the man revenge territory that you'll hear blaring from the freshman dorm rooms.

Music by Jenifer McLaren appeared on Delerium's cd Poem and is presently on tour with Mission UK, but definitely check out this well-rounded debut first. Night Light is the kind of album you want to wake up to on a Saturday morning. You rub the grit from your eyes, try to stretch out your hangover, the CD begins, and before you know it, you're dancing in your pajamas. As Ms. McLaren herself says, "open up your eyes/life is just beginning.

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