A first-rate diamond in the rough, “Silver Linings” has a just-born aspect about it that speaks of young talent announcing itself to the world. And, to be sure, Jeni Valtinson is all of 19 and barely emerging from the covering-pop-songs-on-YouTube phase of her musical education. But my intuition tells me there may be a gifted singer and songwriter in the process of maturing here. I receive a lot of submissions from young and unformed musicians and a lot of this music, however well-intentioned, is pretty much unlistenable. “Silver Linings,” on the contrary, is a splendid song, ably assembled and arranged, and for what the production may lack in all-out sophistication it makes up for through the simple power of the song’s sturdy construction, and in particular its memorable chorus, which presents us with an earworm of the highest quality. I have lately been singing this to myself at all hours of the day. Lovely, potent stuff.
I am also charmed by Valtinson’s vocal performance, which manages to be at once slightly uneven and thoroughly poised. The rounded, breathy quality of her voice sounds at one level slightly green and yet also moves me with moments of casual depth.
Valtinson is from Orlando. “Silver Linings” is the title track to her debut, a three-song EP, which she self-released in April. It’s available to listen to and purchase at Bandcamp. She tells me she wrote all of the songs when she was 14, and that the EP took four years from start to finish. She is listed as co-producer, which gave her decision-making power throughout. If Jeni Valtinson sticks with it, “Silver Linings” could one day pale in comparison to the rest of her work.
photo credit: Reg Garner