"It's All Good"
"It's All Good," John Jennings's latest release, quietly lives up to its unintended billing. "Written, recorded, produced, performed and mixed" by the singer-songwriter and guitarist best known for his work with Mary Chapin Carpenter, the songs don't attract attention so much as insinuate themselves, like a minor key blues or ancient Celtic air.
There are tunes here that will evoke comparisons with far better known singer-songwriters. "The Waves Break Against the Shoreline" boasts a melody reminiscent of Bob Dylan's "Percy's Song," and the lyrics to several tunes, including the CD's title track and the vividly drawn club vignette "Three Feet of Stage," occasionally bring to mind the wry songcraft of Lyle Lovett, Jesse Winchester and Mark Knopfler. Good company, to be sure, but Jennings never sounds as if he's striving to project anything other than his own philosophic view of things. That's one of the reasons why the ballads "You Could Be Me," "Waiting for a Girl" and "The Snow Is Flying" hold up as well as they do, and why the up-tempo tunes have a lot more going for them than just rhythmic thrust.
It's not hard to imagine some of these songs benefiting from full band treatments, especially in concert. Yet this modestly produced session isn't likely to disappoint anyone looking for an intimate glimpse of what Jennings has been up to in his spare time.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Sunday at the Barns of Wolf Trap. * To hear a free Sound Bite from John Jennings, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8105. (Prince William residents, call 703/690-4110.)