December 16, 2015

Penny Lame: Party Songs/Penny Lame Review

(Independent Release) In June, 19-year-old local singer-songwriter Jianna Justice released the home-recorded Party Songs EP. It was a modest set of lo-fi recordings, lyrically focused on things one might expect any teenager to write about. That’s not to say the songs weren’t impactful. Justice’s storytelling comes from a place of often painful honesty; one can hear how relieved she is to get her feelings out in the open, and it’s a moving experience.

In November, Justice released the professionally recorded Penny Lame EP. The songs cover the same basic subjects, but with a more biting sense of humor and stories that feel specific and real, as opposed to the vague generalities that weighed down portions of Party Songs. Justice is a master in self-deprecation, and while it’s slightly uncomfortable at times, it’s often hilariously clever. On Penny Lame’s title track, she asks a new love if they could turn her from “pennies into a million dollars,” repeating the refrain, “I want to be a million dollars for you.” Eventually, she talks herself down into being worth at least $100,000.

The strong pair of EPs signifies Justice’s arrival as a powerful and distinct voice in the local scene. While her music is intrinsically geared towards the teenage mind and its worries, it embraces a bare, impassioned sincerity to which anyone can relate. Many of her songs imply that Justice may have her sights set on elsewhere, but let’s hope she contributes to Athens music for just a little bit longer.