Jann Arden has a peculiar place in Canadian pop culture. She has just as much a reputation for being a comedienne and an activist as she does a singer/songwriter, and while she isn’t as prominent as she was earlier in her career, she still has the clout to grab headlines in the Canadian media.
Yet, despite her sense of humour on stage and in social media, her music is primarily known for its heartbreak and sadness. She plays both ends of the emotional spectrum well.
Her tenth studio album Everything Almost is almost sure to not get near the attention her music did in the 90s. If it follows the trajectory of her post-Greatest Hurts recordings, it will likely only serve to accompany her upcoming Canadian tour later this year.
But for those looking to catch up on one of the country’s most interesting and down-to-earth artists, it’s an album worth looking in to.
Produced by legendary rock producer Bob Rock, it’s not an album that sounds out of her comfort zone. There’s past love, lost love, things left behind and a lot of reflection but there’s also optimism and determination.
On Comin’ ‘Round For Us, Jann sings about the obstacles that stand in the way of love but finishes it with “nothing will keep me from us.” I Ain’t Sinkin’ Yet is a song about determination, while You Were Never Broken, like Mend from her 2000 album Blood Red Cherry, has a brighter outlook on the future: “Nobody can stop you/you were never broken.”
Everything Almost is more polished than her previous records. The first single You Love Me Back is an upbeat pop song that has a simple but dominate pop beat almost overpowering the song’s melody. It’s the album’s biggest misstep due to its attempt to sound current; instead the production comes off sounding dated and amateur.
Hard To Be Alive has a nice folky traditional quality that draws attention to Jann’s distinctive and ever-strong vocals, while What About Me is the closest this album gets to revisiting Jann’s sound from the 90s with a slight hint of blues/country support that would fit comfortably on Happy?.
Overall, Everything Almost is a very middle-of-the-road album. While it’s not as edgy or adventurous as she has been in the past, her vocals are as strong as they’ve ever been. If anything, it shows that after more than 20 years and ten albums, Jann has no reason to quit yet.
1. Comin’ ‘Round For Us
2. You Love Me Back
3. Count The Mercies
4. You Forgot You Loved Me
5. Hard To Be Alive
6. I Am A Town
8. You Were Never Broken [featuring Amanda Lindhout]
9. What About Me
10. I Ain’t Sinkin’ It
11. Everything Almost