In the wake of the internet marketing, artists have had so many more opportunities to get their music to the masses. Forget labels; if an artist wants to get their music heard, social media outlets are sometimes all they need, and Jenny & Tyler is yet more proof of this fact. With three independent releases already in the hands of their modest fanbase, husband-wife duo Jenny and Tyler Somers are attempting to expand their repertoire with Open Your Doors, a record of humble, but high-aiming inclinations.
With elements of JJ Heller, Zach Williams, and The Civil Wars all in play, Jenny & Tyler fit into a nice niche in folk music sensibilities. "Red Balloon" begins the album in fun fashion, introducing the couple's vertical songwriting methods. With mostly original material all meant for personal worship and reflection, Open Your Doors, from a lyrical standpoint, is written very artistically, though the lack of ambiguity brings both good and bad to the scene. "Skyline Hill" and "When Darkness Falls" both capture the desperation of seeking Jesus' presence, while the minimalistic "You Keep Loving Me" was literally recorded in the middle of a park in Nashville, complete with birds chirping in the background. Segues "Lament" and "Selah" all hold the album together as a complete product, giving the record a great flow. There's always plenty of variety present, and the musicianship is always in good form, even when the songs aren't as intrinsically interesting as intended.
Tyler could easily be called out as a Chris Martin-soundalike, but both Jenny and Tyler have marketable voices of their own that shine when it's most important. They don't always sound great when they sing in unison, however, which is something that happens on Open Your Doors a little too often. When artists exist like The Civil Wars, who can expertly execute this art, Jenny & Tyler's attempts, while not awful, pale in comparison. As a general rule in the songwriting department, they absolutely have the talent and potential to put together a cohesive album that captures the duo in their element, but Jenny and Tyler's current course in melody-writing is just a little too unpolished to work with the mature, stripped-down, acoustic folk outfit they yearn to be. Some songs do pull off the concept reasonably well, but most of the time, the songs just feel better recorded than better written; studio production is impeccable here, but with an unintentionally dreary and uninteresting delivery in several areas (ex. "Abide," "Fear Thou Not," "Psalm 68"), the end result just isn't as well done as it could be.
Despite the inherent flaws in Open Your Doors, this is still a highly-accomplished venture for any independent artist. Jenny & Tyler have already set themselves firm in many a listener's heart, and no doubt their old fans (and some new ones with a special taste for a rootsy folk style) will eat their newest effort up without much trouble. And as the duo continues to make music, their songwriting talent is bound to improve, and their next effort will definitely be something to watch out for.
- Review date: 4/2/12, written by Roger Gelwicks of Jesusfreakhideout.com