Jennifer Marks wasn't the first singer/songwriter to write about a heterosexual female having a homoerotic fantasy; members of the Christian right went into convulsions when Jill Sobule had a major hit with "I Kissed a Girl" in 1995. But Marks resurrected that subject with very infectious results on 2002's "It Turned Me On," which -- unless one is a hardcore homophobe à la Rick Santorum -- came across as more cute than subversive. Actually, it's hard to use the word "subversive" in connection with Marks, who has been responsible for some of the sunnier, more optimistic pop/rock and adult alternative recordings of the 21st century. In contrast to all the singer/songwriters who live and breathe angst -- Alanis Morissette and Ani DiFranco, for example -- Marks has generally refused to see the glass as half empty. And she maintains that outlook on this self-titled disc, which is her first album for Bardic Records after several years of putting out CDs on her own Red Kurl label. This 2004 release isn't oblivious to life's challenges; Marks sings about romantic disappointments, bosses who are jerks, and being behind in the rent, but when all is said and done, the New Yorker's optimism prevails -- if Marks' lyrics are a mixture of sun and clouds, the sun ultimately has the upper hand. But even if one didn't speak a word of English and had no idea what she was singing about, this album would still come across as generally good-natured; that's because Marks brings so much pop/rock sweetness to her work. There is nothing angular or abstract about this CD; Marks is consistently tuneful and melodic, and that hooky approach serves her well on infectious tracks like "Avalanche," "Any Other Way," and the anthemic "Live." Those who have enjoyed Marks' Red Kurl recordings won't find this Bardic debut to be the least bit disappointing.
Jennifer Marks Review
by Alex Henderson