Nashville based singer/songwriter Courtney Jaye’s third full-length album, Love and Forgiveness, wraps bruised experience in an optimistic sheen for a message that new beginnings are always possible. Recorded in Los Angeles with producer Mike Wrucke (Miranda Lambert, David Nail), Love and Forgiveness recalls the laid-back pop vibe of 1970s California country heard in artists like Neil Young and The Eagles with a decidedly alternative slant.
Courtney’s angelic, high plains vocal and its steady reverb wash fits in well with other female alt-country artists like Neko Case and Jenny Lewis. Through 10 songs, the album, which is due in stores May 7, fills the room with electric guitar shine and earthy rhythms intended to both stimulate and soothe. “One Way Conversation,” built from a strong and pronounced riff, finds that As long as it’s a one-way fight, you’re guaranteed to win. On the stomping “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” Courtney’s melodies trace twinkling guitars as the words, Our love’s a smoking gun / Can’t tell you what we’re running from, seek out a deeper realization. With lush choruses that often stress the positive side of things, reassuring messages in songs like “Morning” and the cosmically-inspired “Stars and Skies” offset the album’s heartbreaking moments.
Positivity flows both musically and vocally on Love and Forgiveness. Courtney’s up/down syncopation on “Summer Rain” gives the song a warm bounce as pedal steel dances sweetly in the background courtesy of player Greg Leisz (Kris Kristofferson). On “Ask Me To,” bright vocals color the tune’s retro styling with an atmospheric shine, and on “Say Oh Say,” melodies drift up into waiting harmonies, urging through a cathartic chorus to Shout it out and let it out. It’s as if for every dark moment, Courtney makes it a point to counter with an uplifting or encouraging word. [I] Keep movin’ on, she sings with patience on the breakup tune, “Thought About It,” before adding, I’ve seen all I need to see. Yes, there’s pain, but Courtney also recognizes there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Courtney co-wrote all 10 songs with Thad Cockrell, Kristen Hall (former member of Sugarland) and Bryan Cates, producing many insightful glimpses into the human condition. Perhaps the most perceptive comes on the album’s uptempo title track. My heart and diamonds /no difference between them at all, she sings knowingly. They both have their moments / given time they will show their flaws. Smart, intuitive and clever, “Love and Forgiveness” accepts the good and the bad while holding herself accountable as well. And as she sings on the forward moving “New Day,” Every step I’m taking/a choice I’m making, working toward a new tomorrow. There’s a healing process and sometimes it doesn’t happen overnight, but on Love and Forgiveness, Courtney makes a strong case that each new day offers an opportunity for a fresh start.
Key Tracks – “New Day,” “Summer Rain,” “Say Oh Say,” “Every Time We Say Goodbye”