Jenna Torres crafted an excellent album in Heaven & Hurt with most of the songs falling pretty directly into one of those two categories. The first track, “Godspeed” tells the story of someone letting go of a love when she realizes it’s not meant to last. It’s definitely a song of hurt, but it’s more remarkable for the maturity displayed through the pain.
“That particular song came from a place of wanting so much to take the higher road,” Torres explained. “It’s so easy to feel that we own each other and that if you don’t get what you want that somehow things aren’t right. But at the end of the day I do think it’s important to release and to accept the way things are.”
Torres displays more maturity in hurt in songs like “Your Time to Fly,” a farewell to an ailing loved one, and “Just A Mountain,” a song about persisting in the face of very real struggles.
“I think it’s very important to acknowledge when a mountain is large,” Torres said. “Having lived as long as I have I’ve walked over many mountains. I’ve managed to get over many mountains myself and I’ve been with people whose mountains were so great that even as we attempt to ascend we know we may never get to the top. But what I’m trying to say in the song is that no matter how great the mountain, you still have to climb it.”
The heaven in this album comes in many forms. Prayers Up offers a literal moment of holiness in an otherwise secular collection of songs. But Torres also explores a less pure form of heaven on songs like “Tell Me In Kisses” and “Tennessee Heat.” In both songs Torres is direct about her wants and needs and tastefully sensual. It’s a mindset that she actually finds easier to express on stage than in real life.
“I say things and do things in song that I may not do in person,” Torres admitted. “Song is freedom for me. It’s the place I go to let it all hang out and be more easily seen. To be a fully empowered woman who speaks about her sensuality and desire openly is something I want for myself and all women, frankly.”
The songs play out a bit like fantasies, or at least aspirations.
“It comes very naturally,” Torres said. “Being a person who has a pretty vivid imagination and can direct a whole movie in my head about how I want things to go, I’m pretty good at conjuring up an ideal world in my mind.”
“Talk to the Rain” is a song that asks someone to step into one of those roles that Torres might cast in her imaginary movies: someone who’ll support her through the hard times.
“Being supportive looks to me like good listening,” Torres said. “It’s not so much about giving advice and telling people what they should do. But what a person should do is really up to them. Encouragement, energy, faith, seeing the beauty in someone. I’ve been very fortunate to have several people meet me where I am. Meet someone where they’re at and try to lift them from there.”
As much fun as a country album with typical tales of self-destruction and dramatic breakups can be, “Heaven & Hurt” is a refreshingly mature take on many of those same topics. Even the love songs show that Torres is a woman who knows what she wants and knows what she needs to do. And it’s absolutely to her credit that she can display these traits without sounding preachy about it. And while Torres likes to avoid the word ‘should,’ I have absolutely no problem saying that you should give this album a listen.
Above is the full episode as aired on WUSB’s Country Pocket, including both my interview with Jenna Torres and the songs we discussed, starting with Godspeed, which handles saying goodbye a lot better than I could. The interview begins afterward. You can hear the show live every Monday at 11am on WUSB 90.1 FM or check the blog to watch it as a YouTube playlist. Visit http://www.WUSB.fm and https://www.jennatorres.com for more.