Three years in the making, K.J. Denhert’s "Girl Like Me" offers a satisfying blend of first-rate originals and some unexpected covers.
Described on the CD as an urban folk and jazz artist, Denhert is a difficult act to categorize. She probably fits most into the singer-songwriter tradition, but from there, she veers into new directions fueled by a spirited dose of neo-soul and a dab of jazz.
"Girl Like Me" manages to capture all of her musical moods in a flowing, mature album tied together by Denhert’s warm, earthy voice and acoustic guitar.
The CD gets off to a strong start with the original "Silence Was Deafening," a song that quickly provides an example of Denhert’s folk-jazz style as her guitar and rootsy vocals play against a mix of percussions and bass.
Another original, "Violet," is a nod to two childhood inspirations, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. With its cinematic descriptions and lilting vocals, Denhert’s song could fit in either performer’s songbook.
The New Yorker also unveils some surprises up her sleeve with a few choice covers. Her daring version of the Beatles’ "She Loves You" transforms a silly pop classic into a wise, folksy ballad. Denhert succeeds in making the song her own.
Sting’s "Message In A Bottle" also gets a new treatment driven by a nice, bossa-style rhythm and stellar accompaniment by Denhert’s band.
The album then closes with a beautiful rendition of "Oh Susannah," the song that school kids around the nation learn to sing. Denhert’s beautiful vocals give the song new depth and make it contemporary.
The CD is strongly recommended.