Essential New Music: Jenn Grant’s “Paradise”

What makes a record sound “overproduced”? Unnecessary lushness, maybe, but when is lushness ever really “necessary”? That’s sort of its whole point. And Canadian chanteuse Jenn Grant’s sixth full-length is indeed lush, a richly layered mix of instruments, studio atmospherics and vocal processing. If “overproduced” refers to a record sounding a little too busy, arrangement-wise, for its own good, there are moments when Paradise tacks that way. The opening title track, “Hero” and “Sorry Doesn’t Know” (which contains what could be a sly lift of the keyboard riff from Wilco’s “Jesus, Etc.”) all sound slightly as though the music’s aggregate components are starting to get in the song’s own way. But most of the record, echoey and airy as it is, holds the reins tightly. Grant’s previous album,  Compostela, grew from the loss of her mother; if some of the cool gravitas of that record still clings to this one, Paradise still sounds like the work of an artist turning her face back, if somewhat slowly, toward the sunlight.

Eric Waggoner