Review: New album showcases Jenny Shawhan's commanding alto

·1 min read
This cover image released by 24 Angels/Coastal Bend Music shows "Don't Be Afraid" by Jenny Shawhan. (24 Angels/Coastal Bend Music via AP)

Jenny Shawhan, "Don't Be Afraid” (24 Angels/Coastal Bend Music )

Jenny Shawhan has a big voice and knows how to use it. “Let me soar,” she sings on her new album as she does just that.

“Don’t Be Afraid” showcases the Denver-based Shawhan's alto, a commanding, captivating instrument that conveys both strength and vulnerability, and can put on the twang.

She wrote or cowrote all 10 tunes, and the theme is where need begins and ends. Several songs serve as a declaration of independence, including “I Do It for Me,” a tale of liberation and occasional libation.

“Don't You Tell Me What to Do” is a chip-kicker Shawhan sings with her fist, and the power ballad “You Can't Hurt Me Now” peaks with a dandy kiss-off line: “You never even knew me, and you really missed out.” Best of all is Shawhan's sassy rendering of “Daddy’s Got a Briefcase," a business story.

John Macy produced, and there's variety to arrangements elevated by his pedal steel, as well as horns, piano and bluesy organ. Above it all, Shawhan flies high.