Country music always benefits from strong female voices, especially one as unique as Lauren Jenkins’. The newcomer demonstrates this on her dynamic debut album No Saint, a 10-track biography built from unflinching honesty and brave storytelling.
One of the brazen examples of this is the title track. Jenkins doesn’t rush into the story, but rather lets the soft melody pull the listener in before leaving them stunned with her powerful words, as she boldly reveals that she’s not ready to forgive the person who damaged her. Jenkins’ voice glows on the haunting song, as she allows her smoky vocals to simmer on such potent lyrics: “If there’s a cure for bein’ pure again, I can’t find it anywhere, and I don’t wanna hate you, heaven says I need to forgive you, but I ain’t no saint.” She again lets her guard down on “Running Out of Road,” unable to escape a love that has a hold on her. “I’ve got a full tank of gas but my heart’s on empty…I keep trying to find the place where I won’t find your ghost,” she sings, capturing this innermost battle.
In between these intense emotions, Jenkins finds balance with a series of inspiring anthems. Her adventurous spirit takes over on “Cadillac,” calling on someone to join her for an impromptu road trip into unknown terrain. Longing to leave the world she knows behind and venture somewhere new, Jenkins uses descriptive imagery to create a visual of this unpredictable journey, from running through fields of flowers to “clouds ain’t on my shoulders, sun is shooting holes, blue sky’s taking over…I’m gonna leave it up to the next breeze to blow and turn the page,” her words making the song feel like an awakening. Her appreciation for life also shines through on the jazzy “All Good Things” where she rejects envy and celebrates her surroundings by proclaiming, “we got love growin’ on trees.”
Her fearless songwriting lives at the core of “Makers Mark and You” and “Blood.” The former captures a sense of humility as she candidly conveys the struggle of breaking a habit that’s holding her back, but can’t seem to let go of. “Silence is a heavy sound, the hardest kind of comin’ down, the kinda feelin’ I feel now, and every time I use Maker’s Mark, Marlboros and you,” she sings stirringly. Jenkins closes the album with a gut punch on “Blood,” a striking ballad where she paints a stark picture of addiction. Jenkins is as raw and vulnerable as they come, hitting the listener with a jarring dose of reality in the opening line, “Do another line of cocaine because the whiskey done worn off, sell your soul another lie because the truth won’t get you off.” Across the nearly five minute ballad, she courageously holds a mirror up to a loved one’s personal strife, approaching the situation with empathy as she sings, “rippin’ all your veins out won’t change a thing, paintin’ angels black won’t wash away your pain, dyin’s no way to prove we’re not the same, the blood in you is the blood in me.”
Jenkins proves with No Saint that she’s a risk taker, a fact that’s reflected in her left-of-center sound and compelling lyrics, making her an intriguing artist with a distinctive story to share, and establishing a powerful presence in modern country music.