Jenny Bird

Mesa Sea/Unity

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AllMusic Review by

Some diehard vinyl lovers still hate to admit it, but the truth is that CDs have many advantages over LPs--everything from cleaner, sharper sound quality to the fact that CDs can give you more music while taking up less storage space. This release saves listeners storage space by offering two of Jenny Bird's records back to back on the same CD: 1986's Mesa Sea (which was the singer/songwriter's second album) and Unity (recorded in 1989). Hearing the two of them on the same disc, one can hear the differences and similarities. Bird's vocal style is recognizable throughout this CD, and her lyrics often have a very spiritual quality. But musically, Mesa Sea and Unity are hardly carbon copies of one another. Unity, which was Bird's third album, is mostly folk-rock--the style that Bird is best known for--whereas parts of Mesa Sea tend to be more R&B-influenced. "Solitude," "Running" and "Goodnight" (all from Mesa Sea) aren't straightahead soul, but they are mildly funky examples of how pop-rock performances can have an R&B-ish edge. So does the rockin' "Love Is Work," which sounds a bit like something that Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders would do. (Hynde, it should be noted, has made no secret of her passion for classic soul). Not that Unity is totally devoid of R&B influences; Unity's title song, for example, is as R&B-influenced as "Running" or "Solitude." And at the same time, Mesa Sea isn't devoid of folk-rock--R&B-ish pop-rock prevails on Mesa Sea, but folk-rock isn't totally excluded from that album. So in the final analysis, both Mesa Sea and Unity paint an honest, attractive picture of Bird's talents as a singer/songwriter. And the two of them coexist nicely on this pleasingly diverse CD.