Jen Porter Rocks
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Jen Porter Rocks

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Adult Contemporary


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"JJP Productions & Stonecutter Records Release Closer to the Surface"

CHICAGO (August 19, 2009) – The sounds of rhythmic piano combined with emotion, passion and fire are on display throughout “Closer to the Surface” – an album that Jen says “truly captures me as an artist.”

Jen Porter, born and raised in Chicago, has been playing piano and singing ever since her parents put her in lessons at age five. “Closer to the Surface” was born, and most of the writing devised, based on her personal and musical journey. “I don't think an artist ever says, ok I'm done. I finally achieved everything,” said Jen. “That being said, I think this album brings me so much closer to where I want to be as a musician. Just as the title says, I'm closer to the surface. This album is a testament to how far I've come.”

Directed by Grammy-nominated producer, Chris Steinmetz of Stonecutter Records, Jen says that “Chris brings an edge to my music and vocals that has never been captured before. I FINALLY feel like I've found someone who gets me. He was able to provide outstanding direction and strength to my songwriting.”

Over the past 20 years, Steinmetz has worked with various artists such as Kanye West, Ben Harper, Tori Amos, Jay Z,Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Mavis Staples, Common, Kiss and Feist, to name a few. “Jen Porter is powerful performer that can bring down the house with her high energy. She can also move a listener with her emotional and dynamic performances,” said Steinmetz. “Jen's new CD, Closer to the Surface, sets out to show the diversity in her talents as a singer / songwriter and push the limits of her creativity as an artist. This album gives fans melody, emotion, energy and a sense of common ground.”

This is especially evident on such standout tracks as “Long Winter” and “Discarded.” Long Winter is a song about Jen's experiences working in the Caribbean these past two years. She says, “Working on the islands has given me some balance. I feel calmer and more relaxed and fulfilled, even though I'm working harder than I ever have before. This song reflects that.” While sometimes difficult for her to play and hear, Jen thinks that many fans will be able to relate to “Discarded.” “It's all about heartbreak and despair, but also about recovery and how to pick yourself up.”

With 11 tracks of powerful vocals, “Closer to The Surface” also features Jen's stirring bandmates; Tommy Sanchez playing guitar, Joe Thomas on bass, world-class percussionist Ernie Adams on drums and Chris Foreman featured on Hammond B3 organ, all of whom provide a killer rhythm section to Jen's soulful, sultry vocals and melodic piano work.

With the release of “Closer to the Surface,” Jen Porter and her band give a whole new meaning to a combination of indie, rock, folk rock and adult contemporary genres and add yet another album to an already impressive resume including, “Moving On” ©2006, “It's About Time” ©2002 and “Faces” ©1999, celebrating it's 10-year anniversary. “This new album shows real growth in my songwriting and in me as well,” says Jen. “I'm doing new things in my career and working with new people and it's exciting to see these changes culminate in a new addition to my body of work. ”

For media inquiries, contact - ImpressionsPR

"[Jen] brings to the mic an earthy strength moving at a torrential speed"

This Chicago_based lady is still singin' and rockin' the blues on her fourth album, Closer to the Surface. Porter is a powerhouse. She's been compared to Joplin and this doesn't see too far-fetched. What she brings to the mic is earthy strength moving at a torrential speed. Discarded is an outstanding example of the range of power Porter has within. The title track, Closer to the Surface, is softer and tells us Porter has a hidden depth with an edge; going deeper is the paradox of coming closer to the surface. Porter sings with passion for equality on Now is Then. I Don’t Really Know You, beautifully whispered potency. Another Sign of Life with it’s bluesy-sixties organ feel and funky sounds, is a nice surprise. Christain Chruch (not mis-spelled) is easy and acoustic.

Geez, just listen to Jen Porter . . . -

"Porter sings in a tortured growl throughout, her voice swinging between striking moments of intimacy and tornadic outbursts - Chicago Tribune"

There's a wintry feel to "Closer to the Surface," singer-songwriter Jen Porter's fourth full-length album. The songs are filled with allusions to bitter cold and snuggling for warmth, Porter singing: "It's ... cold tonight"; "She was trying to get warm"; "I was cold and alone. ... It's been a very, very long winter."

And yet, oddly enough, the Chicago-born singer spent a bulk of the last two winters plying her trade in the Caribbean, performing monthlong residencies at bars in Aruba, St. Martin and Barbados. "Long Winter," for one, was written overlooking a sea so outrageously blue that it almost appeared computer-generated. "Being able to sit on the beach with a guitar in my hand and stare at the ocean really changed my outlook," says Porter. "It's hard to find anything else that can be so calming. It allowed me to let go and let the writing come through."

And when she did let go, her thoughts often turned to her hometown, locked in winter's grasp nearly 3,000 miles away. Not that Porter particularly missed the cold. "I see it's 12 degrees in Chicago," she wrote in one blog posting at "I'm glad to be soaking up the sun."

The seasonal gigs, filled with thousands of bawdy songs, countless toasts, busloads of sun-torched tourists and far too many shots, allowed Porter a certain financial flexibility when she finally set out to record "Closer to the Surface." After splurging on a single purchase (a flat-screen television), the singer sunk the bulk of her island income into her music, booking extensive time at Chicago Recording Co.. With producer Chris Steinmetz, Porter worked to capture that "live energy quality" she found lacking in previous recordings. The pair quickly developed a sensei-student relationship, with Steinmetz challenging the singer in ways she hadn't previously encountered.

"I've always been somewhat of a one-take wonder vocally and previous producers have let me get away with that," says Porter. "Chris would say, 'That's good. Now let's try another one.' He pushed me to go outside the boundaries I'd conceived, which could be difficult at times."

The effort was worth it. Porter sings in a tortured growl throughout, her voice swinging between striking moments of intimacy and tornadic outbursts, while her piano -- the classically-trained Porter started on the instrument when she was 5 years old -- matches each emotional surge lockstep.

"It can be a vulnerable process in the studio, but you have to dig in to find something amazing," says Porter. "It's all right to feel uncomfortable as long as you get in there and still do it." - Chicago Tribune

""Her firm and soulful voice impassions the daily routine that sometimes seems to trap us"."

The Milky Way, the center of our galaxy, points toward Sagittarius, the zodiac sign depicted as a centaur skillful at archery. In Greek myth, this half-human, half-horse creature is renowned for his wisdom and healing abilities. Those born under the sign of Sagittarius are also known to be philosophical, as well as optimistic, honest and freedom-loving.
I think Jen Porter was giving me and other listeners a clue about her strong second outing It’s About Time by wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with “Sagittarius” on the album’s cover. Just as skillful at playing piano as the centaur is with his bow and arrow, Porter is captivating by finding true purity in voice, lyric and melody. Her full-bodied voice is akin to Ani Difranco, Natalie Merchant and Bonnie Raitt, as is her style – a bold, refreshing combination of foot-tapping rock, country and folk.
The Chicago-native spins tales of intimacy and independence, self-expression and struggle in a very womanly fashion. But no matter the subject, Porter’s instrumental experimentation is what achieves the song’s desired tone. In “Another Day,” a tune that reminds its listener of the opportunities in need of discovery, she asks “why the searching can be better than the find” and answers herself with a quickening electric guitar, while a smarting piccolo sarcastically floats through “How It Feels,” in which Porter demands a more secure and shared love. However subtle the breath of a flute, or simple the prodding of an acoustic guitar, both dramatically infuse “Dance of Time” with the simplicity and sensibility its lyrics aim to convey:
Time is all you have and all you have to give / Patience comes to those who in their hearts can live
Not to live with prejudice, not live with hate / Only we can determine our fate
And if we listen to the quiet inside / It can breach the divide
It’s About Time is simply that. In roughly 40 minutes, Jen Porter traverses our common obstacles and reminds us of what lessons they teach. Her firm and soulful voice impassions the daily routine that sometimes seems to trap us. The constellation of Sagittarius is believed to be 29,000 light years away from earth, but Porter’s words hit much closer to home.

""Any recorded noise blended with Jen’s vocals would come off sounding incredible!""


Jen Porter is a vocalist/pianist from Chicago. After looking at her website, it is very evident that she loves what she is doing, and will take advantage of almost any occasion to sing and play. She plays weddings, bar mitzvahs and birthday parties! She has played for tens of thousands at a Girl Scout Rally in Washington, DC, is working on an electronica project with a DJ (see her website for more details), and also plays several clubs regularly in Chicago! I was impressed with her drive to be out there playing!

I am even more impressed with the collection of original songs that she has recorded on It’s About Time. Reviews that I have written this week have caused me to reminisce; Jen’s voice reminds me of Natalie Merchant so much that it is spooky! In fact, a couple of the songs on this CD sound as if they could have been written by Ms. Merchant herself! “In a Day” took me back to the days of 10,000 Maniacs, and “Another Day” reminded me of Natalie’s solo work done more recently. I couldn’t believe the resemblance! I’m sure that I am not the first to recognize this fact, and I’m also sure that she probably gets asked about it a hundred times a week! So, I will not reference this fact anymore, other than to say that the music of Jen Porter is a very honorable tribute to one of the great singer/songwriters in the business.

Probably my favorite song on this CD is “Dance of Time”; Jen’s incredible piano playing is blended with the sound of a flute in a beautifully crafted song! Everything, including the lyrics, vocals, and drum work combine to make this one of the most beautiful songs on the CD. Another favorite of mine is “Get Outta These Shoes”; this song is nothing complicated – just a guitar and vocals, but the two together are outstanding! In some ways, I think that any recorded noise blended with Jen’s vocals would come off sounding incredible! She displays a great vocal range, and great vocal control on this song!

Of course I’ve mentioned “Another Day” and “In a Day”; those songs are favorites of mine, too. Another standout is a song entitled “Be Right”; this one features great accompaniment by her backing band, and incredible vocal harmonies. The chorus blows me away every time I hear it! What vocal power! That vocal power is also evident on the songs “How it Feels”, a great pop/rock song that for a brief instance reminds me of Fiona Apple, and “Takin Charge Today”, where there are hints of Janis Joplin! I hate to compare Jen’s voice with so many other singers, but I want to provide you with a frame of reference, and a small idea of the variety and power that you experience in listening to this CD. Each song sounds a bit different from the next one, and each is also a testament to the talent of this great singer/songwriter!

I left the best for last. The song “Tonight” is, to me, the most beautiful song on the CD. This song, I think, more than any other, shines the spotlight on the rich tones of Jen’s piano playing. All parts combine to produce one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in awhile! I don’t know that I can say all that this song deserves!

There are other songs that I didn’t mention. I want you to go out and get this CD, so that you can hear those songs for yourself!

In many ways, I feel that the task of a reviewer is to provide a “filter” for a listening public that is inundated with new material all the time! As I said earlier, there is so much good material out there, that you have to have a starting point if you are going to find the best music being made today. In terms of providing that filter, I would recommend that you put this CD at the top of your list. There are several other good bands to hear (many of which you can find on this website!), but just for a bit, put all of those other bands aside, and focus on It’s About Time by Jen Porter. I truly think that you will thank me for the advice! You are welcome!--Mark Lush,, 6/27/03 *Listen to Jen Porter on MWB RADIO!

""[Porter] definitely has a voice with commercial appeal and a great band""

Jen Porter’s piano-driven, bluesy rock has a very distinctive 70’s art-prog sound. This is partly owed to the flute accompaniment on “How It Feels,” which always reminds me of Jethro Tull. Jen has a true Janis Joplin feel to her deep, soulful, very rocking voice; but you will also hear qualities of both Natalie Merchant and Tori Amos in her phrasing. “How It Feels” has a jazz swing to the beat because of her drummer’s time keeping on his hi-hat, and that adds a nice texture to this very appealing performance of a perfectly arranged song. And how can you find any fault with a woman who apparently held a crowd of 40,000 Detroit Pistons fans in rapt awe as she performed an acapella version of the National Anthem? She definitely has a voice with commercial appeal and a great band. Her songs may be a bit too good for the radio (i.e. too complex), but with more mainstream material (maybe working the Norah Jones vein) there’s no reason she couldn’t be huge.


""Porter [is] an up and coming talent to be recognized""

June 2002 CD Review from Red Is All The
Jen Porter is a female singer songwriter from Chicago that plays piano rock like… well…rock. All of the songs included on The Jen Porter Project - consisting of three songs from Porter’s debut album Faces and two songs from her sophomore album scheduled for release summer/fall 2002 - move with a soulful groove that’s been long missing in modern piano rock’s progressive leanings. It is hard to pinpoint Porter’s influences, although one has a feeling that if Carly Simon and Stevie Nicks played piano the resulting sound would be similar to that of Jen Porter’s. “Shakespearean Tragedy” is a dramatic ballad formed from piano, strings, and bursts of percussion accompanied by strong vocals. We venture a guess that piano great Elton John influenced this one. On “Ray” and “These are the Days” Porter turns to a lighter sound reminiscent of a certain rock style prevalent in the 70’s or even Sheryl Crow pre “Soak up the Sun”. Porter’s vocals alone are strong enough to carry the whole album (a talent she proudly exhibits on “Last Night”) and with the addition of piano parts that truly rock, The Jen Porter Project reveals Porter as an up and coming talent to be recognized.


""Potent and brawny""

"Another Day," gets this CD off to a great start with a surprising combo of piano and rock guitar and an alternative sound. Porter tells us, "How it Feels," with a blusey guitar and fixed mastery. She is potent and brawny.
"Tonight," is uncompromisingly tender yet tough. This Chicago-based redhead could stand on stage with Tull and may have found some influence there, or it could just be that Celtic bard in a redhead's DNA rising up in Chicago. Either way she brings a new feel to classic blues/rock.

"Best Local Musician - 2003"

Voted BEST LOCAL MUSICIAN for 2003 by readers of the Chicago Free Press - Chicago Free Press

"Chicago musician, Jen Porter, to collaborate with Producer/Drummer Ed Toth, on new album"

Chicago, IL– Professional local musician, Jen Porter, is back in the studio recording her third studio album, entitled “Hard Easy” and scheduled for release in Spring/Summer 2006. This will be her third independent release, though it's the first time there are some heavyweights in her corner, namely Ed Toth. Ed, former drummer for Vertical Horizon and currently one of two drummers touring with The Doobie Brothers, will be producing and playing drums on Hard Easy.

“I’m really excited about working with someone who has a stake in today’s music but also appreciates the past, especially the Doobies!” exclaims Jen.
“Seriously, I am both humbled and thrilled to be working with Ed & Steve”, says Jen, referring to Steve Cook, who will be playing bass on the album. Steve most notably worked with King Konga, who had a top 100 hit in 2001 with “Something Good”. Steve has also worked with Hootie and The Blowfish, Sister Hazel and Edwin McCain, to name a few.

Jen and the band are recording Hard Easy at Farm Fresh Studios in Bloomington, Indiana. The album is scheduled for release in Spring/Summer 2006 through JJP Productions.

For more information contact Jen Porter, or 312-942-1518 x3
- JJP Productions-Press Release


Faces - ©1999
Live at Starlite Lounge - 2001 (house music)
It's About Time - ©2002
Moving On... - ©2006
Acoustic Chicago Compilation - ©2007
Closer to the Surface - ©2009 Stonecutter Records

Airplay on 100+ US stations and several stations abroad



Acclaimed singer, song writer and entertainer Jen Porter’s fourth album Closer to the Surface (2009), reveals the true character of her musical artistry. With nearly a decade of playing live shows in the U.S., the Caribbean and Europe, and 3 previous albums under her belt, Jen chose to work with Grammy-nominated producer Chris Steinmetz on her most ambitious effort to date. Andy Downing of the Chicago Tribune says, “[Porter’s] voice swing[s] between striking moments of intimacy and tornadic outbursts, while her piano . . . matches each emotional surge lockstep.”

Critics often compare her live-show energy to that of Janis Joplin, her piano stylings and voice to Natalie Merchant, and the intensity of her song-writing to Fiona Apple. Closer to the Surface has been released to enthusiastic reviews.’s Barney Quick says, “This is real music, wide and deep. It’s accessible but still invites you to take your time to see what’s really there. I don’t need any comparisons to get a handle on what she’s doing. She’s setting a standard by which others down the pike will be compared.”

• Recently released her fourth album Closer to the Surface, Produced, recorded & mixed by Grammy-nominated Chris Steinmetz
• Named Best Local Musician (Chicago) by the Chicago Free Press
• Performed for an audience of 200,000+ people at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
• Regular performer of U.S. National Anthem for the nationally-televised Chicago White Sox; has also performed for the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Fire, and Detroit Pistons
• Featured on Stonecutter Records’ Acoustic Chicago compilation
• Featured Chi-Tunes performer in Red Eye, a Chicago Tribune Publication
• Continuous radio airplay and interviews across the U.S. and Europe, including satellite and terrestrial radio
• Has written original music and had material solicited for film and television projects