To say that Eden Brent is enlightened would be a serious understatement. She is absolutely mesmerizing on her new release, Jigsaw Heart, on Yellow Dog Records. She brings everything she has to the table here. Born and raised in Greenville, Mississippi, she attended the University of North Texas, where she studied music, and graduated with a Bachelors degree in Music. In time, she began to apprentice under Boogaloo Ames, and spent sixteen years under his tutelage, eventually earning the nickname “Little Boogaloo.” Brent won the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in 2006, and in 2009 she won Blues Music Awards for Acoustic Artist of the Year, and Acoustic Album of the Year (Mississippi Number One). In 2010, she won the Blues Foundation’s Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year Award.
Jigsaw Heart is her latest offering, and it is a sumptuous delight. The music here is elegant and moving, incorporating elements of jazz, blues, soul, and gospel, all imbued with a subtle southern flavor and sensibility. The album’s 12 songs run approximately 48 minutes, but listeners will be captivated before the end of the first track. Joining Brent on this album are Colin Linden (who also produced) on guitars and mandolin, John Diamond – bass, and Gary Craig on drums. Additional players include Dan Dugmore – pedal steel, Kenzie Wetz – fiddle, Chris Carmichael on violin, viola, and cello, with Ann McCrary on background vocals, and Regina McCrary on background vocals and tambourine. On “Locomotive” and “Panther Burn,” Steve Mackey plays electric bass, and Bryan Owings plays skins.
Again, this album is simply amazing. Brent’s vocals evoke a hint of Billie Holiday (as does the music), an echo of Janis Joplin, along with the smooth and controlled power of Aretha Franklin. Then of course, there is the music. Our favorite cuts include “Everybody Already Knows,” with its driving boogie beat, and “Opportunity,” with its slow, pulsing keyboards, and a rich, creamy vocal that harkened back to the great Mavis Staples. Other scrumptious treats here include “Let’s Go Ahead And Fall In Love,” with its wonderful NOLA flavor, and “Tendin’ To A Broken Heart,” with its echoes of George Schearing, which we were grateful for. “Get The Hell Out of Dodge” is a seriously good time, and the album closer, “Valentine,” is absolutely glorious in all its simple, gentle beauty.
What’s that you say? You don’t have a copy of Jigsaw Heart yet? Our only question is “Why not?”