“Beautiful almost timeless instrumental music, personal lyrics that make you think about family and love, and her unusual controlled breathless voice all combine to make a very beautiful and memorable Christmas song. Two people alone inside on a winter’s night- its like a beautiful, sweeter, truly romantic version of “Let It Snow”. Really great song! :)” – belisbud, fan at NewReleaseTuesday.com

christianmusiccoverYet another debut from an independent artist, WHERE I AM is the work of singer/songwriter, Jen Haugland. For a debut project, the songwriting is very strong as a clear lyrical voice is established. Haugland displays a good sense of melody and does not necessarily default to obvious chord voicing and progressions. I really like the aggressive guitar work on “Deep Into You” and the sense of gradual building to a climactic moment.

The band that Haugland and producer, Eric Copeland pull together, featuring some of Nashville’s premiere session musicians, is pretty great and Copeland sensitively brings out the best in the arrangements, which are subtle where they need to be and appropriately atmospheric or moody when the moment calls for it. “The Storm”, “Where I Am” and “So Hard to Find” (especially) employ some sophisticated musical backdrops (some nice jazzy bits) that really dress the songs appropriately in melancholy finery.

The 60’s pastiche of “Little Bit Crazy” draws inspiration from The Beatles and even recalls female artists like Sara Bareilles and Francesca Battistelli. The project really sounds warm (thanks to engineer, Ronnie Brookshire) as if it was mostly recorded with analog equipment. Part of that may be that there is precious little electronic influence on the album. There are occasional loops and such but it meshes pretty seamlessly with the acoustic elements.

This record has a real human sound that meshes well with the lyrics, too. Lyrically, WHERE I AM is clearly made for a “churched” audience so it should garner significant radio play. From a purely artistic point of view, putting aside the considerations of sales/audience/radio play, I would like to see a little more tension between the spirit and the flesh…….maybe see the process of struggle a little more, as Haugland does quite effectively with the song “Loved You Well.” Lyrics of encouragement and hope are that much more effective contrasted with the pathos of pain. I really DO appreciate the fact that Haugland doesn’t avoid the deeper, darker subjects that are a part of the life of us all, Christian or not. – Shawn McLaughlin


So honored to have this incredible review of my album, Where I Am, from Loretta Sassaman at Spin That 45

Where I Am Cover_1000After much soul searching, singer / songwriter Jen Haugland proves that she has grown up in her writing skills and matured with her new LP, “Where I Am.”

Working with producer, Eric Copeland of Creative Soul Records, this 11-track album is an impressive project of music that should not be ignored.  Well crafted and thought out, it has the ingredients to be considered timeless.

I have to admit that while listening to it, I did have some emotional moments, especially while listening to The Storm. What a powerful song! And so beautiful. It’s a very gripping type of composition that has you feeling like you’ve heard it playing at a tear-jerking movie. Mark Burnett, take note! I think you should take a sec and listen to this song! : )

Not every song is going to bring you to tears, tho. There are some bouncy tunes, like Little Bit Crazy which has that kind of “spring in your step” kind of feel.  Love “So Hard to Find” with it’s smooth jazzy feel to it.  And Jen sounds so cool on this track. Really love her groovy vocals! I detect Bossa Nova artist “Basia” in her tone.

Critics might consider this a Contemporary Christian release. But with the genre of music ranging from soft pop to contemporary to maybe a little smooth jazz, it would be, in my opinion a shame to place this in the CCM category.

The messages may fall under the realm of Christian, but in listening to every song, the lyrics talk about real life . . . relationships, from intimate to spiritual. And who hasn’t heard those types of lyrics in songs heard on today’s radio stations? I have.

And as I said earlier, I did feel some tears flow as this has been a heavy week for me. Deep emotions surfacing! And perhaps that was Jen’s intention. She is after all, a licensed therapist. And as she states on the liner notes, the album is not just meant to be enjoyed but to bring healing to those hurting.  I can believe that.  One song in particular that brought those tears was “Intentionally,” a song about children with special needs. The “special needs” I have been dealing with are kids who don’t feel valued and wished they had never been born, thus having a desire to hurt themselves. So when I heard this song, I saw those faces in the lyrics. And THAT to me is good songwriting!It Takes A Village!
So impressed by all who are on this album. I’ve heard most of them on other projects.  It’s great to hear these great musicians on this album together. Truly stellar in their skills.
Review by Loretta Sassaman at Spin That 45