In Greek mythology, the men who sailed with Jason in search of the golden fleece were known as Argonauts. These guys were celebrated for their daring, their ability to take off in search of an end goal that empirical evidence, fact, common sense -- anything other than faith -- failed to suggest was attainable.
Canadian singer/songwriter Jann Arden boasts a similar belief in what James Baldwin called "the evidence of things not seen." Breaking out of the comfort zone, setting sail for parts unknown, is a dangerous but potentially artistically rewarding venture. And Arden, though she could easily have settled back into the comfy cocoon of the tried and true, decided to bust out a bit on her most recent effort, last year's self-titled opus.
Arden is known as a serious, sometimes somber songsmith, and she has been rewarded as such; Juno awards came her way in the best songwriter (2002) and best female artist (2001) categories, and her fan base continued to snuggle up to her sometimes quirky melodic poems, drenched as they were in emotion and self-reflection. But for this newest record, Arden and musical partner Russell Broom decided to drop the "big ideas," and start to look for the meaning in the minutiae. The result is an album that even listeners who don't appreciate Arden's earlier efforts can find a friend in.
Arden's newly universal art continues to grow, as she tours the "Jann Arden" material and notes the songs changing and morphing on the road. Catch her in flight as she arrives for two days of shows inside the Avalon Ballroom, Niagara Fallsview Casino, Niagara Falls, Ont., at 8:30 p.m. next Friday and Saturday. Tickets are priced $59.50 to $89.50 (Canadian funds) and are available now at the Avalon Ballroom box office and through Tickets.com.
-- Jeff Miers