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Pennies in a Jar


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Biography

Nikki Jean had an idea. More of a mission, really. She would travel across the country, stopping off in the great music cities, and collaborate on new songs with writers who, by anybody’s measure, would have to rank at the very top of any list of the most accomplished men and women ever to work at the craft and art of songwriting. She’d explain this goal, and her eyes would light ... Read more in Amazon's Nikki Jean Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 12, 2011)
  • Original Release Date: 2011
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: S-Curve Records
  • ASIN: B0052KJ5VI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,267 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. How To Unring A Bell
2. Steel and Feathers (Don't Ever)
3. La Di Da Di Da
4. My Love
5. Pennies In A Jar
6. What's A Girl Supposed To Do
7. Rockaway
8. Million Star Motel featuring Lupe Fiasco & Black Thought
9. Patty Crash
10. China
11. Mercy of Love
12. Sex, Lies and Sunshine

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

One of the new faces of modern soul, Nikki Jean decided to travel the country and collaborate with her songwriting heroes. Did she succeed? Wildly! The songs she sings here were co-written with Carole King ( Rockaway ), Jimmy Webb ( China ), Carly Simon ( Sex, Lies and Sunshine ), Bob Dylan ( Steel and Feathers ), Burt Bacharach ( Pennies in a Jar ) and more!

About the Artist

Nikki Jean had an idea. More of a mission, really. She would travel across the country, stopping off in the great music cities, and collaborate on new songs with writers who, by anybody's measure, would have to rank at the very top of any list of the most accomplished men and women ever to work at the craft and art of songwriting. She'd explain this goal, and her eyes would light up, and you couldn't help but get drawn into the plan. It seemed so pure, and at the same time, wild and improbable.

Who could imagine this, that an artist whose link to the modern world of commercial pop music was appearing on records by Lupe Fiasco, who was still in her early 20s and had no solo recordings on her resume, would reach out to songwriters such as Jimmy Webb, Carole King, Lamont Dozier, Burt Bacharach, Bob Dylan, and ask them to collaborate, and that so many of them would open their doors? That she could spend weeks in Nashville writing with members of the Country Music Songwriters Hall of Fame like Bobby Braddock, go to Martha's Vineyard to write with Carly Simon, recapture the sound of Philly Soul with Thom Bell? Get Brill Building writers Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Jeff Barry, all now relocated in Los Angeles, to write with her the way they used to write in the cubicles of Aldon Music? It was hard not to get swept up in her enthusiasm, and at the same time, wondering if she'd be able to pull this off.

That was around three years ago, when Nikki and her producer Sam Hollander started talking about the project that is now called `Pennies In A Jar.' Nikki had told Sam that what she had in mind, at first, was a modern version of Carole King's `Tapestry': an album rich in melody, emotional and truthful, with all the songwriting elements that are in such short supply, even on pop radio, where songs sound assembled out of spare parts that are lying around in the studio, a beat here, a riff there, a lyric idea from somewhere else. Nikki wanted to get back. Sam thought about this, and expanded on it. Why doesn't she, if she wants to capture that essence of songwriting, work with some of the form's masters, the architects? Go to the source.

So they began this. With the help of publishers Jody Gerson and Marty Bandier, and a contract with a major label, they started to contact a wish list of people to write with. Jimmy Webb, who almost never collaborates, said he would. Burt Bacharach sent Nikki melodies for verses and chorus, and waited for a lyric before sending her the bridge: he wanted to be sure. Mann & Weil welcomed her into their home. Dylan sent her an unfinished song from the `Shot of Love' era, and invited her to complete it. She got to write with Luigi Creatore, whose roots go back to the `50s with Sam Cooke, and who wrote for Elvis.

Ultimately, maybe fifty songs were written for this album. What you hear is a compact history of pop: the girl group sound, Motown, the sophisticated melodies of Bacharach and Webb, a place where country literally meets hip-hop, the art of the singer-songwriter. All tied together by Nikki Jean's warmth, her joy in making this music, her gift to be able to change shape and still stay herself. The challenge for her, and for Sam, was to take all these influences, all this geographical and musical range, and make it flow. To point, in each individual track, to the place it sprang from, and have it fit with the songs surrounding it. To sound, always, like Nikki. They've accomplished this beautifully, and anybody who cares about real songs, and who loves discovering something new, and who is dazzled by the names on the songwriting credits alongside Nikki's, needs to listen.

Customer Reviews

She is very talented and it shows well on this album.
Monique Jenkins
It takes you on a journey where you feel like you're reliving the past, while managing to feel fresh and new at the same time.
Jabari
Simply a great CD and a great voice, not trying to be like someone else.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 12, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Simply a great CD and a great voice, not trying to be like someone else. This is what music is suppose to sound like, enjoy.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Luigi Facotti VINE VOICE on July 19, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD takes me back to buying vinyl in the 70s - sounds like Nikki Jean was having fun - and the songwriter collaborations work - especially that with Thom Bell. Nikki Jean has a strong voice and her production team does not overwhelm her. The package design is also really nice -lacquered overprinting and good photography. Good all around.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jabari on July 18, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Pennies in a Jar is outstanding. It takes you on a journey where you feel like you're reliving the past, while managing to feel fresh and new at the same time. Nikki Jean has an amazing voice and it is on full display on this album. For anyone who enjoys real music it is a must have. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Monique Jenkins on October 2, 2011
Format: MP3 Music
This album is really good from Nikki Jean. She is very talented and it shows well on this album. She is the first young artist i ever known to have been able to collaborate with so many talented legend artists like: Bob Dylan, Carly Simon, Carol King, Thom bell, and many more. Which also gives me a reason to become more of a fan to her music. She did the right thing with learning from top talented people like that, who have been around for a long time and know the music business really well. I hope she get more notice with this album soon. I love how the album has a great old school feel from the 50's & 60's era with a new updated twist to it. Her voice fits really well with this type of music. Nikki Jean is amazing!

My favorite songs are: (top fave 3 are with *)

1. Pennies in the jar*****
2. How to Unring a bell****
3. Steel & feathers*****
4. Sex lies & sunshine
5. My love
6. China
7. Rockaway
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Martin H. Franzen on October 2, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, so when I heard Nikki Jean recorded an album of songs penned by the best songwriters of that era, my hopes were high. That she chose songs no one has heard and did a wonderful job keeping them contemporary is a tribute to her talent. Where else will you find new songs by Bob Dylan, Barry Mann, Carly Simon, Carole King, Lamont Dozier, Thom Bell, Burt Bacharach, Jeff Barry, Paul Williams and Jimmy Webb? If you like female singers whose voices ache as they perform, you'll love this debut.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Word On The Kerb on September 18, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This type of collaboration has been done before, but never to the extent Nikki Jean has achieved.

A young vocalist( in her twenties !) now resident in Philadelphia, manages to get together some very successful writers from the 50`s, 60`s and 70`s who are from a diverse musical background of Pop,Motown,Philly Soul,Country to even a writer for the Muppets !

Make no mistake this collection of a dozen tracks is no childs play this is serious music with a warmth and vibrancy from the pens of Thom Bell " How To Unring a Bell " a favourite track for me at the moment. " My Love " Lamont Dozier,
" Pennies In a Jar" Burt Bacharah, " Rockaway " Carole King, " Sex, Lies,& Sunshine " Carly Simon in collaboration with one or two other writers and a certain Nicholle Jean Leary Nikki Jean !)Huge congratulations to Nikki for pulling this off and a thank you to some famous hit makers from back in the day.

What has been pleasing to my ears at least is that the finished products do sound fresh,musically as often old school artists tend to sound so dated on new material in todays market place.

Nikki may not have a diva type vocal of grit and deep passion like say Linda Jones or Beyonce but what she lacks in vocals more than makes up for in a very worthwhile project that must have been costly and involved much travel let alone trying to convince some talented and often forgotten writers of classic musical history in America.

Put your hands in your pockets pay the "Pennies From Your Jar"! Give this young lady a bunk up the ladder so her career goes to the next level. It would be a waste to not hear what else Nicholle Jean Leary has to offer.

John Carrier
" Word On The Kerb "
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ann Marie Craig on August 1, 2011
Format: Audio CD
I disagree with Brian Lennon. What an opportunity for Nikki Jean to learn from some of the greatest songwriters ever. The album was pleasant to listen to, and her voice was crystal clear. I found "How To Unring a Bell" good enough to make me want to hear the next song, which is my favorite on the album, her song with Bob Dylan "Steel And Feathers[Don't Ever]". "Ladidadida" her song with Luigi Creatore was a little too cutsy for me. Her song with Carole King "Rockaway" did have you singing it later on. I am not big on rap, but "Million Star Motel", her song with Bobby Braddock was good even with some rap in it. She wrote a beautiful love song with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, "Mercy Of Love". Her song with Carly Simon "Sex, Lies & Sunshine"------what a fun song! I don't think another album will come along that will get the same reaction from people that Carole King's Tapestry album did(Nikki wanted to create an album that was a modern version of Tapestry). Even Carole wasn't able to top herself. That's a once in a lifetime album! My grading on this album is A-. Nikki, keep up the good work!
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