Eden Brent's debut, "Mississippi Number One," is named for the route that more closely follows the Mississippi River than the parallel and more famous Highway 61. Eden grew up there, in a musical household, the sounds and songs of the delta an ever-present part of the muddy musical backdrop of her formative years.
Eden's father played guitar, and her mother was an accomplished actress and singer who also dabbled in songwriting - she wrote three of the tunes here. So it's no surprise that Ms. Brent seems thoroughly at home on a piano bench, her rollicking keys complimented by delightfully laconic vocals.
Material here ranges from the topical boogie-woogie of her mother's "Mississippi Flatland Blues" to an affecting solo take on the jazz standard "The Man I Love." Brent is sultry and seductive on "Darkness On The Delta," playfully sassy on "Fried Chicken" and "Why Don't You Do Right," and tackles "Trouble In Mind" as though she's been both living and singing it far longer than her age would permit.
Eden's own compositions vary from Memphis funk ("He'll Do The Same Thing To You") to the title track's driving rock ‘n' roll. Both "Afraid To Let Go" and "All Over Me" are mid-tempo rockers of no particular distinction, but "Until I Die" closes the disc with an irresistibly rousing gospel-fervor.
"Mississippi Number One" was originally conceived as a solo outing, but roughly half the tracks feature bands of varying size. Brent's slightly thin voice fares best when the accompaniment is less cluttered. As a sultry chanteuse, she's irresistible - her dynamics range effectively from a raucous shout to a whispered caress, but her phrasing has an intimacy that tends to be overpowered when backing is busy.
On this outing, at least, Brent shines brightest with just her own piano for accompaniment. But there's so much talent here it seems irrepressible, and there's no doubt she'll adapt to a bigger musical canvas with additional experience and/or sympathetic production.
Ultimately, though, this is an extraordinarily auspicious debut, holding the promise of great things to come … we'll be hearing much more of Ms. Brent!