Water in a Whale

Water in a Whale

There's no shortage of firepower backing up twentysomething NYC-based singer/songwriter Jillette Johnson for her debut album, Water in a Whale. The piano-playing vocalist teamed with producers Peter Zizzo (Celine Dion, Vanessa Carlton) and Michael Mangini (David Byrne, Joss Stone) for a tight sound that gives both a gloss and a punch to her diary-like compositions. Case in point is the album's first single, "Cameron." Here it's presented in both a "stripped" piano-and-voices version and an all-hands-on-deck performance; it tells the story of a transgendered person seeking to better understand identity and could be applied to all who don't feel at peace with themselves. Many songs concern love and the challenges that come with its struggles. "Pauvre Coeur" (Poor Heart) has a stunning vocal performance. Despite its buttoned-up approach with piano and strings, "Basset Hound" reveals true desperation and obsession in its lyrics. "Peter Pan" suggests Johnson has a silly side lurking under her professional surface.

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