Releasing Today: Jenny Van West 'Happiness to Burn'


Portland, ME-Based Singer-Songwriter, Jenny Van West Releases Happiness To Burn Today 4/20! 

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The Heavily Anticipated Follow Up To Her Award-Winning Album, Something Real 

Portland, ME February, 2018—Happiness to Burn will be Jenny Van West’s second full-length album following 2015’s Something Real and a 2016 EP, Honey and Hive. Happiness to Burn consists of 10 vocally driven originals that fuse folk, rock, swing and country.  Music that Van West describes as “Confessional fiction” and “Buddhist Gospel music” or as she explains, “Music in the form of songs that sound old, but are new-- music that connects the landscapes of introspection and lived, personal experience.” 

Van West worked with musician and long-time collaborator, Ed Desjardins on her first album and EP in Readfield, Maine, but when she found out he wasn’t available to produce the third project, she immediately thought of Los Angeles singer-songwriter and producer, Shane Alexander. 

Flying out to his Los Angeles studio, Buddhaland, Van West spent a week immersed in the music, living at the studio and recording every day. Shane Alexander has a long and successful track record as a performer, producer and promoter both in the music industry and as a musician and selected some of the finest musicians and engineers that LA had to offer to help create Happiness to Burn. 

Alexander not only produced the album, but lent vocals and guitar to the mix.  He also brought in Jesse Siebenberg (Lukas Nelson Promise of the Real) for steel and dobro, Carl Byron (Jackson Browne) for piano, organ and accordion, Ted Russell Kamp (Shooter Jennings) on bass, Austin Beede (Grateful Shred, Todd Hannigan) on drums and Justine Bennett (Jacob Dylan) on vocals.  Recording at Buddhaland Studios with Alexander gave Van West access to numerous excellent acoustic guitars and the album was recorded using mostly vintage Guilds and Gibsons from his collection. The experience resulted in a recording that is sophisticated in every way, songwriting, musicianship and production and a true showcase for her voice and songwriting. 

The title track “Happiness to Burn” kicks off the album with a jaunty string arrangement and tinkling piano kicking in bringing to mind a jazz standard.  “The original inspiration for this song came from the peculiarly American habit of unnecessarily bringing up bad news in the middle of joyous occasions,” she explains, “hence the title.  Wrestling with this topic, it started out as a fairly straightforward country song.  Quickly, I recognized it needed to be rewritten from the perspective of great happiness, and a mostly-stock swing progression suited that shift.” 

“Live in a New Way” was inspired by the protests in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray.  “This song asks people to consider shifting their habits toward the common good, paying off societal debts as the way to peaceful co-existence,” Van West points out. “The topic is heavy but I knew that in order to be effective it needed to be a fun song that I would want to play over and over and people would want to hear repeatedly.” 

From the gospel feel of “Never Alone” to the country tune of “Twenty Seven Dollars” and the slower, “Can’t Have You Now” and “Embers, Van West’s clear true voice is the star of the record. As one reviewer described it, “(Van West) plays her silky/sultry voice like a fine instrument…” 

Growing up near the banks of the Potomac River in Maryland, Van West lived all over New England before settling in Portland, Maine in 2005.  Although, singing, writing and playing guitar since in her teen years, the artist took a break from writing and didn’t return until 2009.  In 2015 she won the Maine Songwriters Association songwriting contest and her career has kept progressing from there. 

With several tours under her belt, Van West has also dug into the musical community of her hometown, founding the Maine Immigrant Musical Instrument Project and the International Open Mic. After meeting a musician who had fled his country she thought about how hard it must be to start a life over in a new country, and as a musician how hard it would be without her guitar.  Working with local church leaders she finds instrument-deficient musicians (who are also asylum seekers) and connects them with instruments. She describes her role, “I work with recent immigrants finding musical instruments, teaching basic guitar lessons, developing venue access, and generally building community with music at the core.” 

It’s that level of empathy that Van West brings to her music.  A soothing yet riveting stage presence and a voice that engenders depth, compassion and love, with the ability to write songs that sound like instant classics.  Happiness to Burn will gratify old fans and wow the new fans. 


Publicity Kim Grant: 

Radio Promotion Jenni Finlay: 



“Her voice shines on the acoustic ballad ‘Never Alone’ as her words melt your troubles away.”--The Record Journal 

 “…It is Jenny Van’s West’s vocals that are the focus and that sell this one.” --Michael’s Music Log 

“We love this Maine-based artist’s voice….”--Sun 209 Americana Music News 

“Even in the darkest of times, there needs to be a light that glows and Ms. Van West provides the spark which guides the way.”—Liverpool Sound and Vision 

“Each song just buzzes and shines as each instrument and voice is given a chance in the spotlight, without overwhelming the listener.”—Red Dirt Report 

“Van West is, in the most positive sense, a bit of everything. A tad of jazz, a pinch of rock, a dash of country, but especially a serious portion of professionalism !”—Keys and Chords (Belgium) 

“Produced by Shane Alexander, these tracks will have you tapping your toes and snapping your fingers before you know what's happening. As such, this album is a credible and real success.”—BabySue Music Review 

"In reviews about her previous albums she was sometimes compared to Patty Griffin, Bonnie Raitt, Alison Krauss and even Emmylou Harris, but we can not really agree with that. We would rather attribute her own, very recognizable sound.”—Rootstime 

“ Easy going throughout, there’s the rootsy equivalent of summer jazz going on here.  Van west is certainly a new friend you’d like to hear from more often.”—Midwest Record 

“The title track opens with a swing sound and a decidedly delightful atmosphere while "Never Alone" is a country ballad of great quality, "45" is tasty between country music and rock'n'roll, "Where I Stand" is instead one of the 'highlights' of the album, an adult and mature ballad that justifies the comparisons of some criticism that have brought Jenny Van West to Aimee Mann and Bonnie Raitt…"Happiness To Burn" is a good record, an opportunity to meet an author and singer worthy of attention.”—Lonestartime (Italy) 

“Award-winning singer and songwriter Jenny Van West sands off her rough edges to bring her best to every performance.”—Take Magazine 

“Winner of the 2015 Maine Songwriters’ Association songwriting contest, Jenny Van West’s original songs hit with passion and humor. Crossing the boundaries between country, swing, folk, her songs combine insightful poetry and embody the poignancy, joyfulness, tragedy, and humor of being human.”—Chris Wolff Show Maine Coast TV