Jenny Owen Youngs: Singer & Comedienne

“Make it a clean break, make it a fast cut, I don’t wanna feel the ache, don’t wanna keep the rot.” Jenny Owen Youngs sings “Clean Break” as her introduction to the crowd at Red Palace, who by 10:30PM last Friday have had just enough of Hank and Cupcakes and are ready for sarcastic banter and dark-humored rock pop.  

It’s been six years since Batten the Hatches, Jenny’s first record (not including self-released The Scrappy Demos), and she hasn’t lost her perspective.  As she sings the lyrics, “I want to be the girl that makes you try,” I get the feeling she still has hope, but it dwindles. She sings like someone who continues to try despite her huge bobbles and missteps.

Everything I touch turns to shit
Everyone I try to love won’t hear of it

Now my hands are overfull of things I’d like to give
Does anybody want it?
Does anybody want it?
Does anybody want me?

Jenny and Elliot (drummer), whom she boasts “I don’t give him a microphone because I don’t allow him to talk, but he’s strong, he’s fine,” break into “Great Big Plans.”

Don’t say what you’re gonna say
Don’t say what you’re gonna say

Those words, throw them away
Don’t say what you’re gonna say

Ohhh
I can’t get done with you

I just can’t get done with you
Kiss me ’til we’re black and blue
I can’t get done with you

All right, maybe that previous one, “Drinking Song,” and this last one, her newest, don’t sound hopeful, but as she jokes between songs and screams sweetly into the microphone, the songs full of “break up reflection” and regret only slightly outnumber the ones about love.

Jenny’s unique folk-rock voice needs little accompaniment beyond her dutiful drummer Elliot who does a fantastic job of maintaining song interest and absorbing said verbal abuse. During “Led to Sea,” Jenny requests the help of “Cupcake” from Hank and Cupcakes, whose notes fall flat, and it’s clear Jenny leans heavily on her guitar, a little beat, and ample wit.

With claps transitioning to laughter after each song, J.O.Y. gives the crowd what they want. She credits a past audience member for “saving her life” on lyrics at Rock and Roll Hotel last time she rolled through DC and heckles the crowd by telling us that although we did sing all the right parts to her cover of “Hot in Herre,” we were overly demanding about her “carefully designed set list,” and “things were going to happen, just wait.”

She is a total bargain, no matter the cost; she keeps you laughing, wants desperately for you sing along, and will tell you exactly when to shut up.

Oh yeah, and she’s funny: J.O.Y’s Blog.

You can also check out her performance for us last month at Ardent Studios.

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  • Anon

    The lyrics to Clean Break are “Make it a clean break, make it a fast cut, I don’t wanna feel the ache, don’t wanna keep the rot.”

    • http://thevinyldistrict.com Olivia

      Thank you! We’ve edited.

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