Cleary’s Wheel by Bruce Von Stiers (2010)

“Jenn Cleary is one of those singer songwriters who goes unnoticed for quite a while and then with a song or two gets a touch of the spotlight. Jenn had a debut album about four years ago that got her some recognition but didn’t propel her to the national spotlight. But Jenn has a new album out that should place her in the top tier of blues rock performers.

This new album is titled Back To The Wheel. Jenn has taken twelve of the best songs that she’s written over the last couple of years and put them into the album.

On all of the songs on the album Jenn does the vocals and plays acoustic guitar. She brought in members of her band and some great studio musicians to help out on the album. Eric Moon plays the accordion, synth, B3 organ, piano and grand piano. Brian Schey is on bass. Christian Teele is the drummer and does the cowbell and shaker on separate songs. Nick Forster plays electric guitar, slide guitar and mandolin on the album.

John McVey produced the album. He also played electric guitar and ebo along with providing background vocals. Mad Dog Friedman played harmonica. Doug Moldawsky played electric guitar on one song and Eban Grace was on steel pedal guitar for another. There was one song where Jesse Mano played the flute along with some very interesting international instruments. And the great Megan Burtt provided background vocals for the album.

Summertime’s The Time is the first track on the album. It is a fun, slightly head bopping tune with good acoustic guitar, cool piano and moderate vocals. It has a bit of zydeco at the front.

Last Day of Vacation Blues is a light, rollicking blues tune about having to go home and the fun she’s had on vacation. There’s some tough guitar in the middle.

I consider the title track Back to the Wheel to be the one of the best on the album. Jenn kind of reminded me of Janis Joplin, only with a bit more subtle vocals.

Little Mr. Street Survivor is more of an alt folk tune. It’s about a street kid; telling him to stand tall and “to your own self be true.” It is mellow, yet has more than a touch of angst.

Completely Free is another mellow song, this one with nice guitar and subtle synth.

Jenn comes right back with a slick blues piece with great harmonica called Sun Don’t Shine.

I really liked the acoustic guitar in the alt folk rock song called Moments of Grace.

Toe tapping blues music can be found in Don’t Try And Change Me. It’s an in-your-face piece about not conforming to what he wants her to be.

Another song that I really liked on the album is Those Boys. Jenn sings about boys who are adventurous and free. The vocals are great, the guitar terrific and the harmonica is awesome.

You can almost hear the smile in her voice as Jenn sings in My Favorite Place.

Hope had some really good music with the djembe, flute gobexhan and aud.

The last song is one that has a bit of Country, a bit of folk and a sliver of blues. It is called In The Sunshine.

I really enjoyed Back To The Wheel. There is a bit of several styles of music contained in the songs. Jenn Cleary wrote about things in her life and observations on others that translated very well into blues and alt rock tunes. She has the talent to indeed take her to the top tier of blues rock performers.”

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