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Moods: Solo Female Artist Country: Americana Folk: Alternative Folk Rock: Americana Pop: Pop/Rock

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Jenee Halstead

If you detect something expansive and mysterious in the music of Jenee Halstead, a freedom that owes no debt to place and time — or even genre — you understand where she’s coming from. And where she’s headed ... deeper into the essence of song.

Her evolution from folk singer to ethereal rocker mirrors her journey from the West Coast to the East. As a youngster in Spokane, Washington, Jenee followed the lead of hippie parents and explored music freely. She heard something in it all — from medieval choral works, to Led Zeppelin to Dolly Parton — and it tugged at her, even as she earned her degree at Gonzaga.

To build on her personal, almost-secret songwriting, Jenee moved to Boston, where the seeds for many of her influences were planted. While Berklee College of Music was part of the allure, the academic approach turned her off, and away. “They make everybody use a laptop,” Jenee says, lamenting that mechanical method. “I thought, ‘Bob Dylan didn’t write “Blowin’ in the Wind” on a laptop! I don’t need this.’”

As it turns out, all she needed was a few nights with the working musicians in Cambridge’s basement Bohemia, Lizard Lounge — and an introduction to Patty Griffin, with whom she startlingly shares a vocal quality and artistic bent. “Patty Griffin was a complete revelation,” Jenee says. “It just opened up a whole new world to me. ... Patty Griffin gave me permission to just write.”

And write she did. It took just over a year for Jenee to record and release a debut album, “The River Grace,” and, with it, claim an Emerging Artist award at the 2009 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. Indeed, the stylings on that debut made her a darling of the folk scene and won plaudits from Telluride and Mountain Stage. But, much like her coast-to-coast journey, Jenee Halstead’s evolution through her following three albums has been nothing short of revelatory.

Her latest release, “Edge of the World,” adds to the indefinable soundscape in which her soft and supple voice floats so exquisitely that the Boston Herald felt it “like sorceress music, rings of smoke through the trees and the bells of Rhymney,” while comparing Jenee’s working relationship with new producer Sean McLaughlin to that of Emmylou Harris and Daniel Lanois for the way it “embedded a tremendous voice in an otherworldly, shadowy soundscape.”

Spot on. With her gift for wonderfully evocative lyrical imagery, delivered with such a compelling voice, it’s easy to foresee that Jenee’s unfettered songwriting will continue to rise — like those swirling rings of smoke — into the expansive sky, and far beyond the edge of the world.

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