Jennifer Markey and the Tennessee Snowpants

The Sparta Session (self-released)

Jennifer Markey's sophomore release is a crafty ode to bad decisions. Right away, "Feelin' Single, Seein' Double," showcases the lovable loser Markey likes to portray—a heroine tackling her mistakes and using her brash wit to come away the victor. The tune, set to the honky-tonk beat of the next morning's headache, sees her piecing together last night's hazy adventure. She sings, "When I woke up this morning, might be the sun was high/ then I started walking the long way home just to think of an alibi." "Bartender, Bartender," a tune that could be the theme song for Lee's Liquor Lounge, follows in kind, as does "Love Squared," which may be the best showcase for Markey's humor. The song focuses on her romantic competition, who finds her wrath in the form of a jack knife, a booze-spiked baked potato, and the weapon in this lyric: "I found myself at the hardware store, checking out the hammers/ before I go do something crazy, I guess I should mind my manners."

But The Sparta Session also reveals a side of Markey listeners are less familiar with—honest retrospection in the clear light of day. "(Beggin' You To) Let Me Stay" recalls the apex of a break up with the sad maturity of someone who experienced it firsthand. And the album's closer, "Faith, SD," a stripped-down tune that shows Markey's comfortably-worn alto sounds as good bare as it does with her band's seasoned twang of guitars, speaks of desolation on the road and in her heart, and a feeble, worry-laden journey to where she wants to be. Though it was risky for Markey to momentarily remove her trademark tongue from her cheek, the bet played out well, letting listeners see behind the slapstick.

JENNIFER MARKEY AND THE TENNESSEE SNOWPANTS play this THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, at PALMER'S BAR; 612.333.7625

 
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