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Man, can Jenn Grinels sing! Her sultry voice growls at the hot, slow parts in song one, “Misery,” and it rings out like gold in the quick-paced and heartfelt track three, “No Better.” The album is all sweet acoustic tracks, and even in that simple form she makes each song interesting, using deft transitions between the highest and lowest notes of her considerable range.

The songwriting is pretty good, too. Grinels avoids the cliché trappings of her genre — acoustic love and breakup songs — and she embraces genuine, original lyrics without the smartypants overtones or anger of her indie-girl-group contemporaries. She is the real, talented epitome of today’s best indie music.

Grinel’s music would be perfect to me if she had a little more indignation and animal aggression. With that, I think she could hang with Johnette Napolitano.

Album: Little Words (2007)
Artist: Jenn Grinels
Label: self-released

Where available/price: At live shows (one for $15, two for $20); at M-Theory in Mission Hills and Lou’s Records in Encinitas for $12. Online at jenngrinels.com for $15.
Songs: 1) Misery 2) I Know Your Heart 3) No Better 4) Closure 5) Crutch 6) Treason 7) Somewhere Between 8) Slingshot 9) Gray 10) Happy Birthday 11) Can’t Stay Here
Band: Jenn Grinels (vocals, guitar), Dwayne Larring (guitar, bass), Richard Greene (violin), William Driskill (drums), Jesse Carmichael (drums), Ryant Tallent (piano)

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