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Jen & John

Jen & John – 2015 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Jen & John

There is nothing as purely and organically beautiful as well written songs presented in the spare context of complementary voices and guitars. Canadian singer/songwriters Jen Lane and John Antoniuk understand and execute this formula with a collaborative chemistry that defies the fact that their seven-song EP, "Jen & John," is their first recorded work together.

Like the pairing of Robert Plant and Allison Krauss, Lane and Antoniuk bring different backgrounds and strengths to their partnership; Lane comes from a more traditional folk/country direction while Antoniuk's experience leans toward rootsy indie rock. Although "Jen & John" falls squarely in Lane's domain, there is an underlying dynamism in the duo's sparse but powerful arrangements that bristles with restrained excitement.

"End of the World," an Antoniuk composition, bears all the earmarks of John Doe/Exene Cervenka balladry, Lane's "Having a Good Time" lopes along like Neil Young at his most contentedly contemplative, a la Harvest Moon, and Antoniuk's "The Way Home" finds the duo tapping into the kind of intuitive magic that marks the work of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. The EP's two covers exhibit Lane and Antoniuk's unique synergy, tweaking the great J.J. Cale's "Crazy Mama" and the Ryan Adams/Emmylou Harris duet on "Oh My Sweet Carolina" to fit perfectly within the framework of their originals. Based on the all-too-brief "Jen & John," hope runs high that Lane and Antoniuk are sequestered in a Saskatoon studio coming up with a full-length companion piece.