Live Review: Jill Hennessy

Jill Hennessy
Borders, Columbus Circle, New York
June 17, 2009
Review and Photos by David Chiu

History has not always been kind to actors/celebrities-turned-singers: David Hasselhoff, Don Johnson, Bruce Willis, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton. Let’s just say that the material they have tackled—or God forbid written—can be mildly described as disappointing. And perhaps the only reason to have those records is for collectors and obsessed fans to have something by them, not for artistic quality. Exceptions are very rare; say for William Shatner, where his stint into music is more known for its camp value.

And then there’s Jill Hennessy, who is best known for her work on the television series Law and Order and Crossing Jordan. However, to the possible surprise of the mainstream public, Hennessy has sunk her teeth into music before acting. According to her Web site, she had played music by busking in her native Toronto; later when she was living in New York City in the early ‘90s, she also was performing with a band, the New Originals, on the subway. Growing up she was raised on the music of Cat Stevens, Elton John and Joni Mitchell.

Earlier this week Hennessy released her debut album, Ghosts in My Head, which coincided with her scheduled show at The Living Room on Tuesday. Tonight she was at Borders as part of an instore performance and signing. Accompanied by a pianist/accordionist, a guitarist and a cellist, the singer performed a few cuts from the album. All of the songs carry a country-folk inspired sound that is expansive in terms of the musicianship and the introspective lyrics.

Those who probably heard Hennessy singing voice for the first time could immediately draw comparisons to Natalie Merchant and Cowboy Junkies’ Margo Timmins—it was both very earthy and soulful. One could really hear the shimmering sound emanating from her acoustic guitar, which certainly reflects her past experiences in playing. By the way she projected herself onstage, Hennessy wasn’t posing or acting rock star cool—here was someone who actually enjoyed making music.

Overall Hennessy was very impressive as a musician. Her genuine singing and playing proves that this isn’t a vanity project. Let’s hope that Ghosts in My Head is not a one-shot moment but the start of more new music from her to come.

Set List:

10,000 Miles
For Small Hands
Ghosts In My Head
Save Me
Oh Mother

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