(Photo by Nicole Berlin Photography)
“This world don’t cherish truth, my spirit’s been mad for days,” sings Jackie Venson in the first verse of her newest single. From there, “‘Til This Pain Goes away” carries a resolute spirit of social consciousness somewhat reminiscent of Heartless Bastards’ towering “Revolution,” while also giving off sonic vibes of Tracy Chapman.
But while “Revolution” was a deliberately building call to arms of the spiritual, mindful variety, Venson has a much different (and quieter) frame of mind here. In this time where there’s “no limit for the depth of human hate,” she’s not rounding up troops so much as pledging to keep her eye on her own ball: “I will not be fooled/Shall not be moved,” she vows in the chorus, eventually adding that she’ll “Be the sign, be the proof/That love conquers blues/Know I was born to work until my dying day/So that’s what I’m gon do ’til this pain goes away.” She’ll “sing my songs and pray,” seemingly establishing her music as both a societal example and a personal escape. This should fit in well thematically as part of upcoming album Love Transcends (assuming it will contain “Transcends,” the song from whence that title comes).
But arguably the headliner here (and naturally, here I am telling you about it in paragraph three) is how basic and subtle the song’s instrumentation and production (by Venson and Tim Palmer) are. Venson’s turn into electronic music and her full-on embrace of beatmakers have been the signature of her last few years of performing and recording, and she’s undergone that evolution with notably effective results. But on “‘Til This Pain Goes Away,” it’s a throwback session of sorts for her, with strictly the meat and potatoes of popular music instrumentation: Venson on guitar and bass, her smile-a-holic band stalwart Rodney Hyder on drums, and Jon Keyz on, well, keys.
There’s also none of Venson’s signature blues-rock axe-murdering. Instead, it’s her voice, seemingly channeling Chapman in its phrasing on the verses, that makes the biggest musical statement. Ultimately, this works as a Love Transcends appetizer from this tireless artist. If the ol’ “I’m just gonna sing my song”-type component seems a bit worn, it still fits and is presented effectively and personally as part of these two-and-a-half minutes. Jackie’s got a game plan for these often appalling times. Maybe it’s like yours, maybe it isn’t. There are different forms of revolution, and Venson is talkin’ ’bout her own kind.