The name Jennis combines Jen Gillmor and Dennis Gaumond. Gillmor is a veteran of our Indie scene and Gaumond is a veteran Guelph-based guitarist with several pre-Jennis releases in his discography. Gaumond writes the songs, handles the lead vocals and plays various guitars. Gillmor sings harmony vocals and provides many of the sounds that make this band unique: cello, didgeridoo, flute, electric bass, jaw harp and something called a wazinator. They have now added Tom Wolf, who also appeared on 2014’s The Current, on drums & percussion plus some guests as well. Gaumond avoids the relationship wars in his lyrics, preferring instead to sing about more intellectual pursuits. 

The album’s title comes from the song “Sneak Past the Mirror” which deals with looking in the mirror, seeing yourself as a child and taking an inventory on your life so far. That’s them as children and adults on the album’s cover. The opener though is “You Never Know”, a pleasing reggae-styled plea to treat the future with optimism. It also introduces the album’s main theme of being aware of what’s really important. A bluesy “Go Viral” deals with our world of constant change.  “Wide Awake” points out that we are no longer fooled by much that’s on the mass media or in Hollywood movies or in politician’s speeches, a theme further pursued on the anti-consumerism promoted in “Too Much Stuff”. This latter one features some fine harp from Gaumond. “Prison for Myself” describes a life for those who aren’t wide awake. “There’s Only Love” deals perceptively with various losses, sensory and otherwise, always finding a way to cope and concluding with the title. Citing the stories of various oppressed peoples, “Family Tree” is a well-written plea for togetherness. Gillmor gets the lead vocal for a very good song about an abused woman running away, “Running with the Wolves”. 

Cécile Doo-Kingué guests on lead guitar on this one. Two live songs end the program with a jazzy, almost instrumental “Mountaintop” and Bob Marley’s “Get Up Stand Up”, for just banjo and cello, with Jen Gillmor and Dennis Gaumond adding verses that refer to and reinforce the themes of the previous songs. With backing ranging from acoustic duos to full electric blues bands, with well-written, thought provoking lyrics and memorable melodies, this is one enjoyable album. They rode The Current to a nomination in the New Artist category for the MBAs, this one should lead to more nominations. 

CD Release Parties in Toronto at the Burdock (October 6) and in Guelph at the Black Heritage Hall (October 4). The web site is www.jennis.ca.

October 2019 - Arsen Shomakhov
Top Blues - October 2019