Mission Valley duo Jimni has put out their second album with 11 original songs that explore modern folk styles. Stacy Lynne Santilli’s powerful voice and percussion, in tandem with Jim Steiner’s burnished baritone, harmonica work and deft guitar strokes, make for a big sound. Santilli plays a baby grand piano, too.
Santilli exhibits hints of Alison Moyet, a British singer with hits in the ’80s. She likewise possesses a vigorous, compelling sound, and loads of technical prowess. The two formed Jimni in 2010 after years in various bands together, and the album hews closely to what you’ll hear in a live show.
Steiner and Santilli collaborate on many of their tunes. A chord progression or riff, or a snippet of chorus, may trigger the other to add lyrics, and/or a harmony vocal and instrumentation.
Take “Bend,” the title track. Steiner’s cookin’ guitar riff, minor-infused, was the germ. It rumbles along like a train on a track, with wailin’ harmonica and dark, sustained electric guitar chords pitching in. Santilli then swoops in to plead, “Bend a little more,” and proceeds to utter a torrent of lyrics that pretty much reveal she is unhappy. The sound is full within the sparse, clean arrangements.
The country-folk rocker “Sweet Release,” with lyrics by Jim’s wife, Brenda Steiner, opens the disc. Santilli’s bold, quavering delivery allows her to float from alto to a high soprano; Steiner’s electric guitar rocks the sound. The duo sings harmony lead on the hook, a trademark of many of their songs.
“Doormat” is a bluesy ballad with interesting chording and a peeved heroine: “Well, I’m still brushin’ off all the dust that’s covered me since you been wiping your feet right on me,” Santilli scolds.
“It Wasn’t Me” has Steiner singing lead, and the duo converging on a harmony lead à la the Civil Wars, with Santilli adding lithe piano chops. In addition, multi-instrumentalist David Griffith fills in with the Hammond organ on “Aren’t U Glad,” and Steiner shares a sweet toe-tapper for his wife, “Hey Mama.”
There’s a lot more here. Give it a spin.
– Mariss McTucker