Jenny Owen Youngs - Secrets

From the album Transmitter Failure (2009)

I was recently going through an old, dying laptop, trying to salvage what files I can before I wipe the drive and get rid of it forever. There was a ton of music on it, and I moved a bunch of albums on to my trusty travel drive. It’s been a great excuse to revisit some of the music that I haven’t necessarily been digging into in recent years - there were some old chestnuts from Sinatra and Grant Lee Buffalo that I’ll likely be posting about soon - and one of the albums I came across was this fantastic, power-poppy disc from Jenny Owen Youngs. I first came across this one about three years ago, and I’ve quietly been following Youngs’ career ever since.

I must admit that I have a soft spot for musicians who (a) crank out quality power-pop (b) seem to have a good, self-effacing sense of humor and (c) are thoughtful without being condescending. Youngs seems to have all these qualities, and for proof of her excellent song craftsmanship, one need look no further than to “Secrets,” a track that starts with Youngs coyly singing “I’ve got secrets up to here, love, don’t you worry your pretty head” over a choppy, stabbing rhythm guitar, before the whole band suddenly thunders in. It’s a basic rock combo that’s augmented by brass coloring and a soulful organ, painting a rich musical backdrop for a tasteful tale of mind games. 

In the hands of a lesser writer, it might have been a train wreck, but this song has a sly, dark humor, a great hook, and a playful, tight live feel to it. Always glad to come back to some tunes from Youngs, so at least there’s a small upside to my old laptop finally biting it.