Jenn Grant’s The Beautiful Wild, her fourth (but first US-released) record, expresses wonders beyond pleasant views. Having grown up on Prince Edward Island, Canada, she saw lush landscapes and the glistening sea right outside her window, and it was easy to take such things for granted. The album title is a challenge: to accept the grueling lows of life that come between glorious highs. To embrace life means acknowledging its inevitable confrontations.
So why this record and why now? Simply put, it’s the songs, soulful and ornate, with lush guitars, pianos, horns, banjos, strings and even a boys’ chorus populating The Beautiful Wild like trees in the woods. But everything stands aside for Grant’s captivating singing, a thick tenor that trails like heavy smoke. While her past material established her throughout Canada as a musician of distinct note, The Beautiful Wild propels her into new realms of accomplishment.
Over the time period that The Beautiful Wild was conceived and completed, Grant’s life took significant turns. First, she married Daniel Ledwell, who is now her musical collaborator. Having spent the past ten years living in bustling downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia, she and Ledwell moved to a two-story home in the wilds of Echo Lake (population 3,562). Like her youth on Prince Edward Island, Grant chose the reflection of a removed life and took a step away from the city. It was this environment of accepting the past in which The Beautiful Wild materialized.
In the video for “The Fighter,” shots cut from Grant to a recently uncovered film of her mother, around the same age that Grant is now, participating as the beauty pageant queen of a downtown parade. A clear connection between a past heretofore unknown and the present is how Grant acknowledges the importance of one’s history in facing what’s to come. This cognizant view of life is also heard on “Michael,” one of the album’s standout tracks; a hymn for a boy who lost his life in a car accident. Grant never knew him, but met his family at a show and ended up becoming matchmaker for her brother and his sister.
As the album begins with “The Fighter,” closing with a heartfelt cover of one of the ’80s most enervating battle songs seems only appropriate. For Grant, it’s not so much winning the battle as knowing what you have, where you are and being ready for the thrill of the fight.