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Jenny Jaron, 'Up and Down'


Published December 23, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated December 24, 2020 at 11:34 a.m.

Jenny Jaron, Up and Down - COURTESY
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  • Jenny Jaron, Up and Down

(Self-released, digital)

In 2017, music critic Ann Powers published an essay introducing "Turning the Tables," an NPR series honoring influential women in American popular music. Powers noted in her piece that "the general history of popular music is told through the great works of men, and that without a serious revision of the canon, women will always remain on the margins."

Given the long-standing sidelining of women and nonbinary individuals in music, it's heartening that at just 17, Colchester singer-songwriter Jenny Jaron knows that she deserves a seat at the local music table.

Certain elements of Jaron's writing and performance on her debut album, Up and Down, reveal her youth and inexperience. (I'll get to those in a bit.) But the topics she writes about — love, liars, haters, breakups and the desire for emotional intimacy — are ageless.

Jaron, whose surname is actually Martel, pulled preset beats and loops from the online production program Soundtrap to build the minimalist, hip-hop-influenced instrumentals for her 10 indie-pop tracks. Though the Colchester High School junior's voice has a pleasant, pop-friendly tone, listening to it over several songs is a bit of a roller-coaster ride. She seems to run out of breath — and out of tune — on her more wordy, uptempo numbers, such as the tropical house-tinged "H.A.P.P.Y."

On the slow ballad "Fixing You," however, Jaron — who told the Colchester Sun that she's had no vocal training — settles into her voice and lets it soar, hitting literal and figurative high notes.

(BTW, is there a term for a voice doppelgänger? I ask because, in a couple of instances, Jaron sounds uncannily like Linn Berggren of Ace of Base.)

Jaron's cleverest lyrics come on "Accumulate." Half singing and half rapping, she puts a bad liar on blast: "You're a sloppy two timer, three timer, prob'ly four / You're never satisfied with just one girl, always need more." There's also this empowering declaration: "Hate to leak the news but you just missed out on a queen." Tell 'em, Jenny!

From the styling in the cover photo to production elements, '90s and '00s trends and allusions crop up all over Up and Down. The stuttering beat and techy sounds in "Don't Wear It Out" channel a 2000s version of futuristic — imagine if Darkchild remixed an Ace of Base song. (Side note: If you've never listened to the Spice Girls' 2000 LP Forever, do it for the delightfully dated Darkchild production.)

Whether listeners experienced the aughts firsthand — JNCO jeans, wallet chains and all — or were just born when George W. Bush was president, they'll likely relate to some of the experiences propelling Jaron's music. With more time and polishing, Jaron could strike a chord with her cool vibe, confessional writing style and unabashed point of view.

Stream Up and Down at