Cleveland’s own Jennifer Farley and Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets’ self-titled release

Former Clevelander Jennifer Farley had once been a big part of the music scene here in town. Back when she was known as Jennifer Preisler (before she married her husband, Mike Farley), the vocalist used to perform in a local cover band known as No Matter What. And then she and Mike Farley created a duo that featured both singers creating cover versions of popular songs from that time period.

Soon, however, the Farleys found themselves needing to move on from the city of Cleveland. After a short stopover in Nashville, the Farleys decided that another location would be better for raising a family. It was at that point that they moved to Madison, Wisconsin where the family lives to this day.

While living in Madison, both Mike and Jennifer Farley found themselves needing to reengage with the musical sides of their personalities. While her husband would reunite with his old bandmates from the Mike Farley Band, Jennifer would find a musical outlet of her own as she joined up with other solo singers in the Madison area to create a new trio. Along with Jennifer Farley, the other two singers in the trio are keyboardist/vocalist Shawndell Marks (AKA Shawni) and guitarist/vocalist Beth Kille.

Together, singers Jennifer Farley, Shawni Marks and Beth Kille would combine their talents to create the band Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets. Together, the trio of Farley, Marks and Kille has released one six-song self-titled EP under the Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets moniker.

Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets’ self-titled release finds the trio creating a release that contains original music with three tracks written by Beth Kille, two tracks written by Shawni Marks & Beth Kille and one track which was written by Mike Farley. The sound of the band is rather simple with just acoustic guitars and keyboards with the inclusion of percussive instruments to help form the instrumentation. That acoustic rock sound flows through the six-song EP.

The self-titled release from Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets begins with a track with a title that either was influenced by the band’s moniker OR helped to create said moniker. The song “Gin and Chocolate” is one of the simplest tracks on the EP as the music to the track consists of just the acoustic guitar, percussion and vocals with Beth Kille taking a turn at lead vocalist. On the song “Gin and Chocolate,” the trio sings of things that “make you happy”. The vocals on the track add a nice happy feeling to lyrics that say that a little indulgence after a hard day never hurt anyone.

Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets’ self-titled release continues with the one song written outside of the trio. While no one in Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets’ wrote the song “Disguise,” the song actually was written by Jennifer Farley’s husband Mike and had originally been released on Mike’s album entitled Blue. And while Mike Farley wrote the song, Jennifer had basically adopted the song as her own as she was the one who would sing the tune when the Farleys performed together. The new version of the song by Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets finds Jennifer on vocals with keyboardist/vocalist Shawni Marks and guitarist/vocalist Beth Kille helping to create the music on the track. Together, the trio creates a version of the song that lies somewhere between the original full-band version from Mike Farley and his band and the duo version that Mike and Jennifer would create in concert.

Farley, Marks and Kille continue their Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets EP with the song “Where Do I Go”. While revolving mainly around the piano, the track brings to mind something from Tori Amos with a sound that feels very commercial and would fit right in with other Top 40 songs on the radio. The track itself features Shawni Marks on lead vocals that do an excellent job of conjuring up the vision of Tori Amos. “Where Do I Go” is a very strong track that stands out among the six tracks that make up the EP.

With the track “Keep Running,” Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets create a track that features only their voices. The a-cappella track allows the true talent of each of the ladies to shine as there are no instruments to cover up their voices. The harmonious nature of the three singers naturally makes for a track that draws the listener in. And with the addition of a simple metronome effect, the song becomes rather full while containing no actual instruments.

The self-titled EP from Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets comes to a close with the track “Be Your Own Superhero.” While the other tracks feature music that would fit in with current musical styles, the track “Be Your Own Superhero” finds the trio creating a musical moment that borrows largely from older styles. In fact, the track contains a rather strong Old-Timey feel to the music created with the help of the piano and mandolin. Bringing to mind the underlying feel of a song like “You Are My Sunshine,” “Be Your Own Superhero” takes the listener musically back in time while still containing the modern-day upbeat, positive mindset of some of today’s folk music.

Jennifer Farley, Shawni Marks and Beth Kille joined their musical talents together under the moniker of Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets. Together, they have created a self-titled release that features six tracks would fit in with other modern-day acts that are found on Top 40 radio. Being only six tracks, it may be short but it contains many moments that allow the listener to experience the talent of the three singers.

 

Jennifer Farley and Shawni Marks and Beth Kille who make up Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets will be in town this upcoming Saturday, January 13, 2018. The reason for the Madison, Wisconsin act performing in Cleveland is because Jennifer Farley is reuniting with her former group called No Matter What. That cover band is getting back together in order to play a reunion concert at the House of Blues Cleveland venue of the Cambridge Room. The event will allow the band of No Matter What to play together for the first time in several years while also providing an event that will do some good. Along with Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets and No Matter What, the concert will also feature Dan McCoy and the Standing 8s. The concert will also be a fundraiser for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. Check out the House of Blues’ website for full details.

To hear the music of Gin, Chocolate and Bottle Rockets, click on the album cover below:

 

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