The Record, Canada
By Patrick Finch
Over the last decade, Kitchener singer-songwriter Lynn Jackson has amassed a formidable catalogue. Specializing in pristine folk, country and pop music, and anchored by her God-given shimmering, clear voice, Jackson has steadily increased her profile in our community and across Canada. For her seventh album, the self-explanatory “The Acoustic Sessions,” Jackson and her right-hand man, Sexdwarf’s Chris Boyne, revisited her back-catalogue with little adornment.
“I’ve been thinking about doing a retrospective album for a while now,” she told me. “I’ve put out seven albums in ten years — the first being ‘Night Songs’ in 2004 — and it’s kind of like a pattern emerges: record the new songs, tour and plug the new record for a year or so, then head onto the next project. And you end up always focusing on the newest album. The other ones kind of get a bit left behind. I … wanted something that reflects more of what I sound like when I tour, which is mainly solo. So I thought a stripped-down acoustic album would be a good way to do that. (This album) was a way to pick a collection of my strongest songs and dust off some of the old ones.”
“The Acoustic Sessions” is perhaps the cleanest and sharpest representation of Jackson’s strengths as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Unencumbered by careful, dense arrangements and studio sheen, her listeners are provided with the chance to hear her words and melodies as if for the first time. It’s also her first record to share billing with her frequent collaborator, tour-mate, and pal, Chris Boyne.
“Chris is such an intuitive player and singer,” Jackson said. “He’s just one of those guys: you bring him a song and he makes it better. He produced 2010’s ‘Coming Down.’ He doesn’t necessarily change how I play, but he enhances it.
“I wanted to represent, through, the material chosen and the packaging, what happens when Chris and I team up. We’ve been playing together as a duo for about five years. He did a (ton) of work on this record with me. He plays acoustic guitar, backing vocals, harmonium, melodica, piano … I’m often taking up his time and he’s certainly not getting rich from his efforts. So billing the album as collaborative, while very honest … is also my way of saying ‘thank you.’ I hope we make more records together.”
Though stripped down and acoustic, the record is packed with sterling guest appearances from the likes of the Stony Lonesome’s Steve “Go Tribe” Wood on pedal-steel guitar, Wendy Wright on violin and Scott Fitzpatrick on mandolin. Perhaps most key to the album’s mood and sound, though, is the legendary Teenage Fanclub frontman Norman Blake, who recorded the album.
“Norman and his wife have been friends (of mine) for a few years now. The fact that he lives in town now made it easy. They moved here from Glasgow about four years ago. We were having drinks one night and I asked him if he’d be interested in doing an album with me. His role was mainly as engineer for this project. Chris and I had much of the arrangements worked out, so Norman’s job was to capture it. He has lots of great gear and a fantastic ear. He’d know if we were getting a good take or if it was time to move on. He and I would sit and listen to people come in and play along to the songs and kind of secretly give each other the thumbs up when a take was particularly brilliant. And it happened a lot!”
Jackson is tickled with how well her latest venture has turned out, and she’s excited for her release party Sunday with Ottawa’s Slo Tom. As always though, Jackson is also already looking toward her next project. She claims it will be a darker, more electric and eclectic affair, taking advantage of her many musical allies’ talents, and certainly those of her closest collaborator, Boyne. In the meantime, she’s getting back on the rock ‘n’ roll treadmill to get her new album to as many ears as possible.
“This October, I’ll be taking “The Acoustic Sessions” out West. I’ve got a tour booked for pretty much the whole month. It’s gonna be great! I had a really fun time last year going completely solo, doing all the driving myself, seeing old friends, and playing for new audiences. I’m really looking forward to it!”