Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Reading With Guitar

Catchy romantic with guitar--and book deal

Sporting jeans, plenty of eye makeup, and bling on her ring finger, Jen Trynin brought a guitar to her first headline gig here in nearly a decade, a February 6 reading at the Astor Place Barnes & Noble. Cockamamie yielded the failed hit "Better Than Nothing," which corporate heads would have called "Feelin' Good" even though Trynin's title better conveys the romantic ambivalence that makes it more than a hook. Would have been nice to hear "Happier," a sneaky-fast meditation on youth violence that finds its sociological correlative in the catchy, disillusioned "All This Could Be Yours." But instead Trynin sang two love songs from Gun Shy Trigger Happy, which, lyrically, is a sad, true, subtle road album, dominated by the romantic connection she's afraid she's losing: "I miss the time when I could never lie to you/I would never have anything to hide." For such a wordslinger she's a skilled, expressive guitarist, and both songs were stronger live than on the CD--where, unlike Alanis Morissette, she didn't have quite the voice for the emotionality she was going for, and never developed a band sound as original as Veruca Salt's.

Another musical highlight came when Trynin imitated "BigWig"'s (Don Ienner's?) "Feelin' goo-ood" to add extra spritz to her reading a hilarious Columbia Records scene featuring Toad the Wet Sprocket. The radio spot where the DJ took a powder and Trynin was compelled to interview herself was also a scream. That feeding frenzy left her with plenty of great material.

Village Voice, Feb. 21, 2006