Having been a follower of Jennifer Knapp‘s music for the past 10 or so years, it was a delight to hear back in the early part of the year that she’d be putting out a new record — her first original album in nine years — about a month before the onset of summer.
Even better, I don’t think Jennifer has ever sounded as good as she does here on Letting Go. Now 36 and, of course, almost a decade older than she was on 2001’s The Way I Am, Jennifer’s voice has matured wonderfully. Though her vocals are sweeter than Melissa Etheridge’s, it seems like Jennifer emulates much of that seasoned rocker’s distinct rasp on the new disc.
As well, Jennifer is markedly confident.
Listen to “Inside” to get a feel for what I’m talking about. The track, maybe the roughest on the album, has Jennifer in full-on attack mode against, I think, detractors and their biting words. If I had to guess, I’d pin her target on the portion of her Christian followers who criticize Jennifer’s music — and even worse, Jennifer the person — because of her sexual orientation.
Jennifer is as candid as ever on “Inside.” And I love the girl for it.
I know they’ll bury me
Before they hear the whole story
Even if they do
Well, I know they won’t care
To chalk it up to a mistake
Or God forbid, they give me grace
Well, who in the hell
Do they think they are?
The lyrics, really, align pretty closely to what Jennifer said to me in an interview about a week ago. Asked what it was like to perform some of her new tunes publicly before coming out in the press, Jennifer said she “felt like it was an opportunity for people to come out and see [her] and see that [she] didn’t have two heads and that [she] was a normal human being.”
She continued: “Are you going to write somebody off just because there’s an element or an aspect of them that might be difficult to understand, or hard to agree with? It’s still a human being inside of that that has gifts and talents and passions.”
The lead track, “Dive In,” seems to serve up some dialogue on this, too. Here’s how it opens:
Careful what you say
Careful who might hear
Someone else in the universe
Could write it down
And you’ll be hearing it for years
I’m so tired of standing
On the edge of myself
You know I’m longing for it
To dive in, dive in
Though not marketed as a Christian record, Letting Go still delves into Jennifer’s faith and spirituality. Actually, three of the album’s 10 tracks — “Mr. Gray,” “On Love” and “If It Made a Difference” — were written before Jennifer’s long hiatus from music. So, they just as well could have been apart of an album like The Way I Am, a disc championed by Christian bookstores, radio stations and, of course, the Christian community.
Of those songs, “On Love” is probably my favorite. Whether directed at God or simply an individual — I’m hoping the former — Jennifer sings about uncompromising love. It’s a beautiful tune:
Take my hand
Feel the sand
And you remain
I have waited long
But never given up
I have waited on you
But never on love
Chicagoans, take note: Jennifer plays her first Chicago club tonight at Lincoln Hall. Read on for ticket information.
- Jennifer Knapp was born in Chanute, Kansas.
- Her album, Letting Go, is available on her website for $8.99 (mp3s) or $12.95 (CD).
- I chatted with Jennifer Knapp last week and posted a transcript of the interview on Chicago Tunes. Check it out!
- Jennifer will perform tonight at Lincoln Hall with comedian Lianna Carrera. Tickets are $20.
Jennifer Knapp performing “Inside” at City Winery in New York in March