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Westmoreland sales clerk resonates

by: Carl Evans, Lounge singer Jennifer Faust strikes a pose with her white guitar in this promotional photo by fashion photographer Carl Evans.

Jennifer Faust has hidden talents.

In addition to working part-time at Wallace Books in Westmoreland, Faust also sings and plays guitar with two local bands - 'Cotton Jenny' and 'The Jennifer Faust Sextet'.

In November of 2007, the latter group won the title 'Most Signable Band' in a radio show contest judged by Capitol Records in Los Angeles.

Faust has been singing for about 10 years. 'I participated in Choir in high school, but really got into it just in my 30's, when I started singing to accompany a guitarist friend. I'm a late bloomer. I call my style 'psychedelic-alt-country-pop', although others refer to it as a mix of folk and blues,' she says. Locally, her songs have been played on KINK/FM and OPB radio.

Portland is Faust's main venue, but she hopes some day for music to be her fulltime profession. Already she has two CD's in release: 'Happy Hour with Cotton Jenny',

and her latest, 'Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board with the Jennifer Faust Sextet'. Both CD's are available at Wallace Books and online at CDbaby. Faust also sings twice a month at the Matchbox Lounge in Southeast Portland.

'Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board' consists of mellow numbers such as 'Black Josie', 'Old Familiar Habits', and 'End of the Road', all of which appeal to those who have been through some major life changes. As hinted by the title, the selections present an inherent contrast between sweet and introspective songs.

'I've given copies to the parents of my daughters' friends,' she says. 'The songs seem to resonate with them.'

'Most of my songs have been written from a stream of consciousness perspective,' she says. 'They are all personal, like diary entries in the many journals that I've kept since I was 8 years old. Some of the phrases feel special to me, and I've turned them into songs that can be accessed on the websites, www.myspace.com/jenniferfaust and www.myspace.com/cottonjennyswings.'

Some listeners have called Faust's music gorgeous, sublime, haunting, and delicately painful. One observed, 'It seeps deep into the soul, with lots of cool little nooks and crannies in there.'

Faust likes to elicit feelings through her music using a mix of jazz, folk vibes, and Portland blues.

'My producer, Christian Hurd, has turned the songs into emotional compositions,' she says. These range from experimental western jazz in 'Lights Down' to dissonant rhythms blended with languorous vocals in 'Head West'. The pensive and breathy exploration of love in 'Black Josie' was actually written about her cat - but also works well on a personal level.

Westmoreland sales clerk and world-class performer Jennifer Faust presents an intimate small club sound with unique rhythms, dark or mellow vocals, and guitar virtuosity. Her music gives listeners plenty to think about.