Jonell Mosser

Enough Rope

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Jonell Mosser has made a name for herself being a backup singer to artists all over the world -- from Etta James and Rodney Crowell to Joe Ely, Waylon Jennings, and Keb Mo'. On her third outing -- named after her backing band -- Mosser takes the production reins in her own hands, along with guitarist Tom Britt. Musically, Mosser and her skyline voice take on material from the blues -- her own "Red Head Woman" to the balladic soul of Bill Withers' "When I'm Kissing My Love," to a truly amazing, and possibly definitive, reading of Nick Lowe's "When I Write the Book." Having made a reputation as a backing vocalist has worked to Mosser's advantage rather than against her. While it's true she spends much of her time working with artists in the country field and lives in Nashvegas, she has had the time to develop her voice to adapt to many different kinds of material. The singer on Enough Rope resembles the restless and fearless Delbert McLinton, not content with genres, only with songs that have yet to give up their secrets -- no matter how many times they've been recorded. Mosser's reading of Dana Cooper's "Boney Man" wrings all of the darkness from the song, and makes it creepy to be inside your own skin; there aren't any acrobatics here, only the nakedness of the song's protagonist telling the truth, which is enough to make you leave the light on at night. In sharp contrast, "Only the Here & Now" is a greasy bit of funky R&B tinged with L.A. reggae. Timbales pop subtly under Mosser's voice, which croons and then moves deeper into the depths of her belly where it resides, and when she belts out "You and I have found the road to here/And I can feel our destination near/We can find the love, I know we can," you believe her without question. You want to answer "yes" to the bass and chunky guitars as she gets to the top and lets her voice crack, as if to emphasize how deep the truth in her belly goes and how hot the fire of that truth burns. She follows this with a contemporary Christian pop song and turns it into a paean of passion and commitment. By the time she closes the disc with Paul Thorne's "Resurrection Day" (not a Christian song), you know there's no need for one. From the opening acoustic guitars, and her plaintive, sweet country singing to a love moved from the bed to memory, to the end where resolve becomes everything when the house is empty save for the sound of your own lonely voice. Fiddles sway and croon, and guitars wind around each other in a bluesy whine that keeps the melody on track with the emotion in Mosser's dirty, broken-winged angel vocal. Enough Rope is a fine album, one with enough songs to fill any listener's need, and enough class, muscle, and tough grace to stand out from the pack.

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