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Jenna Torres

Wild Sugar – 2017 (Southern Sky)

Reviewed by Andie Burjek

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CDs by Jenna Torres

What's great about Jenna Torres' "Wild Sugar" is that it doesn't really break new ground. Rather than do anything experimental musically, she sticks with the basics. She sings very expertly about the different stages of love in a style that is traditional, nostalgic, sweet and sassy. Rather than sing in metaphors or riddles, she relies on simple, real lyrics that anybody could relate to.

"Who's Kissing Me" and "How to Love a Woman" bring an assertive energy. The former sets the tone as she sets to pick up a guy at a bar. "Before the night is over, you could be the one who's kissing me," she says. And in "How to Love a Woman," Torres gives clear, confident instructions of what she's looking for. "Don't cheat, don't lie, and don't even think about the word goodbye," she sings. There's no room for a misunderstanding in the lineup of many rules she quotes.

Torres also takes a close look at her vulnerable side. "Wild Sugar" is a sweet, optimistic number and exemplifies how she's feeling as she begins to feel a true connection with someone. She's ready to throw herself into this relationship whole-heartedly and realizes what that means. "Maybe I can't fix what's broken/ But I can make you smile," she sings.

Most unique is "Way on High," a track with so much tension and energy. Even though it's about feeling a great sense of despair, Torres doesn't resort on something slow and quiet to show that despair. Instead she brings a desperate, almost angry energy as she begs this person to lift her up. Her ability to emote despair in such a different way brings out the fun aspect.

"Born to Love" closes the set very efficiently wrapping up all the lose edges and ending Torres journey from excitement to commitment to heart break. "It's who I am and what I'm made of/ Who am I fooling?/ I was born to love," she sings. It fits in thematically with the album, which has such a direct, untheatrical attitude toward love and the life cycle of a relationship.