The success of the genre known collectively as "Americana" has meant a rush of young performers clamoring to be heard. For many, their roots come more from their original hair color and ability to listen to old recordings than from longtime lifestyle decisions. Unlike these Johnny and Joanne-come-latelys, Jeannie Kendall has the family credentials and background for true roots legitimacy. As part of The Kendalls with her late father Royce, who passed away in 1998, Jeannie toured the country singing and playing old time country and bluegrass. Her voice has a country edge reminiscent of Dolly Parton, but less breathy with more midrange weight and body.
The material on Jeannie Kendall comes from many sources, including Laurie Lewis, Johnny Bond, Hugh Moffatt, Marshall Willborn, Mike Stults, Larry Cordele, Cathy Majeski, and Joe Scarbury. Joined by a stellar backup group of Ron Block, Kody Kilby, Dan Tyminski, Bruce Watkins, Bryan Sutton, Pat Flynn, and J.T. Corenflos on guitars, Stuart Duncan, David Russell, and Ron Stewart on fiddle, Adam Steffy, Larry Franklin, and Bruce Watkins on mandolin, Sonny Garrish, and Rob Ickes on dobro, Barry Bales, Jason Moore, and David Smith on bass, and Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Rhonda Vincent, Alan Jackson, Darrin Vincent, Carl Jackson, DeAnna Cox, and Royce Kendall contributing background vocals, you have all the ingredients necessary to make a great bluegrass album.
Jeannie's rendition of the old Johnny Bond tune "I Wonder Where You Are Tonight," clearly displays the arresting power and pure emotionality of her voice. Royce Kendall's back-up vocals (his last recording before his death) mesh perfectly with his daughter's to add even more depth, resonance, and emotional power. While many "solo projects" come off like sterile experiments where the producers just add a whole slew of A-list pickers and – voila – it's an album, both the singing and the playing on Jeannie Kendall has focused expressive purpose.
The production values of Jeannie Kendall match its stellar performances. Producers Brian Fisher, Mike Stults, and Ken Irwin employed ace mastering engineer Toby Mountain at Northeastern Digital to give selections recorded at four different studios a common harmonic and dynamic range. The result is a rich sonic security blanket that engulfs the music in natural warmth. If authentic, emotionally real, roots music appeals to you, Jeannie Kendall will grab you big time.