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Album Review: The Other Side
Paul Jensen
Cover image of the album The Other Side by Paul Jensen
The Other Side
Paul Jensen
2008 / Juan Carlos Productions
44 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Other Side is Paul Jensen’s third album to date and was produced and recorded by the legendary and award-winning Will Ackerman at his Imaginary Road Studios. The twelve tracks include five instrumental pieces and seven poetic vocals, most of which are guitar-driven with a folk music flavor. Along with Jensen’s vocals and impressive guitar work, the album features Jimmy Ryan on mandolin, Dana Cunningham on piano, Ackerman on piano and guitar, Noah Wilding’s vocals, T-Bone Wolk and Michael Manring on bass, John Malvey on drum tracks, Derrik Jordan on percussion and electric violin, Jill Haley on English horn, and Eugene Friesen on cello - a stellar list of supporting musicians! Paul Jensen’s voice is gentle and true and reminds me a bit of Dan Fogelberg; his lyrics are spiritual and often refer to nature and how tied our lives are to it. The music is calming and effortless with a couple of uptempo exceptions.

The CD begins with “Mountain Raven,” a beautiful ballad the tells of the pain of lost love and trying to get on with life. The analogies of the mountain raven taking flight and “roll river roll” are perfect for loss and moving on. “Taoist Winds” is essentially a guitar and cello duet with Wilding’s haunting vocals in the background. “Colors of Our Lives” is my favorite track. Jensen wrote the words and Dana Cunningham wrote the music for this deeply emotional song. Jensen’s voice and Cunningham’s piano perform as equals, creating a graceful mood of nostalgic reflection. “Cold Mountain” picks up the pace with a tribute to Han Shan, an ancient Buddhist poet whose name translates to “cold mountain.” I love the two lines that say, “The tiger’s knocking at his front door, Wantin’ him to come out and play...” “Stickney Brook” is a rhythmic instrumental for guitar, percussion, bass, and mandolin that has a sophisticated backwoods tone I really like. “Pray” again picks up the tempo and playfulness with a song that’s a little bit country, a little bit gospel and a whole lot of fun. “Palisade Queen” would be perfect in a soundtrack of rural America. Derrik Jordan really shines on electric violin as well as percussion, blending energy and soul with Jensen’s acoustic guitar - another favorite. “Birdman” closes the CD with a quietly reflective instrumental for guitar, English horn, and fretless bass - a bittersweet and evocative “adieu.”

The Other Side is another example of the exceptionally high quality of any of Will Ackerman’s projects and his amazing knack for teaming with the right artists to work with. I haven’t heard Paul Jensen’s other albums, but I certainly enjoyed this one! It is available from juancarlosproductions.com, cdbaby.com, amazon.com, and iTunes. Recommended!
March 8, 2009
This review has been tagged as:
Guitar music
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