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JFH Music Review

Jennifer Knapp, Letting Go

Jennifer Knapp
Letting Go

Artist Info: Discography
Album length: 10 tracks: 34 minutes, 51 seconds
Street Date: May 11, 2010

In 2002, Jennifer Knapp walked away from a successful music career and disappeared into the Australian outback. After eight years of silence, the small-town Kansas girl with a dry sense of humor is back, and she has a lot to say. Letting Go is both classic Knapp and unlike anything else she has released, an interesting dynamic that is sure to polarize fans. It is also some of her best work to date.

Like a fine wine, Knapp's voice has matured over time and sounds richer and deeper than ever before. She sings each song as if it is her last chance to commune with the world, and the grit in her voice echoes that of Melissa Etheridge and Stevie Nicks. The songs retain her signature folk rock sound, but she pushes herself further this time and drops the grandiose orchestral arrangements she experimented with on The Way I Am. On album highlight, "Inside," Knapp goes electric, putting teeth to her music and covering musical territory that I had always hoped she'd explore. Although it does have its quieter moments, Letting Go is Jennifer Knapp on steroids.

The biggest change for Knapp is her subject matter and lyrical content. Unlike previous material that could have easily been sung during a worship service, the songs on Letting Go are angry and raw, as if Knapp is lashing out at any would-be accusers. Lyrics like "Careful what you say, careful who might hear. Someone else inside the universe could write it down and you'll be hearing it for years" on "Dive In" and "I know they'll bury me before they hear the whole story," on "Inside," are a sharp and biting commentary about being on the receiving end of others' judgment. Other songs like "Want for Nothing," "Fallen," and "On Love" focus on romantic relationships, something Knapp has seldom addressed on previous albums. Traces of Knapp's more overtly Christian past appear at times, but the spirituality of Letting Go lies more in the subtext. What remains the same is the singer's willingness to be open with listeners about her life and personal struggles. She is at times both fierce and fragile but always honest.

Jennifer Knapp has recently been in headlines for something other than her music (recently revealing she's a lesbian), and long time fans will no doubt be divided on the new direction her life and music have taken. This is Knapp's Jagged Little Pill, and it puts her in a position to gain a whole new fan base. Those willing to buy a ticket will find Letting Go a rewarding and challenging ride.

- PReview date: 3/20/10, Review date: 5/10/10, written by Laura Nunnery Love of

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

Jennifer Knapp is back after eight years, and she comes with some surprises. I'm not sure it's possible to ignore the massive amounts of press that have overshadowed the release of Knapp's album, though I'd like to focus solely on what Knapp has to offer musically. I am glad to hear Knapp's gravelly folk/rock voice again, though her subject matter is, as I recall, intensely personal and honest. Within this album are strains of bitterness, regret, anger, and an underlying plea to be heard. The sound is musically folk-y, familiar, and a long-time coming. But with the lyrics being so intimate, it's incredibly hard to not think of Knapp's recent news about her personal life. She said herself it's not a Christian album (parents: know there are some minor obscenities in the lyrics), and some of the songs obviously reflect her strained relationship with Christian culture. In "Dive In," she lets the listener know she's ready to fully embrace who she is, though she's a hero to some, villain to others, and lover to one. Many of these songs are love songs with a great guitar groove - including "Fallen," which seems to speak of forbidden love - but some are angry, such as "Inside," where Knapp lambasts those who will not "give [her] grace." Though to counteract that tune, "Mr. Gray" asks if people will see her bleeding hands and see her as an individual "in need of mercy." "Only God knows who I am," she sings. She also sings about different paths she could have taken, about letting go. You can say this about Jennifer Knapp: her songwriting holds nothing back, and she says exactly what she feels and wants. She continues to be an excellent musician and a strong songwriter. Now, the choice is yours if you want to take in what she's presenting. - Sara Kelm


. Record Label: Graylin/RED/Thirty Tigers
. Album length: 10 tracks: 34 minutes, 51 seconds
. Street Date: May 11, 2010
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It:

  1. Dive In (2:53)
  2. Want for Nothing (3:33)
  3. Fallen (4:45)
  4. On Love (3:44)
  5. Inside (3:01)
  6. Letting Go (3:48)
  7. Mr. Gray (2:59)
  8. Better Off (3:26)
  9. If It Made a Difference (3:15)
  10. Stone to the River (3:27)



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