Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jen Wood's new LP, Wilderness, out 10/14 (New Granada/Radar Light)


Wilderness, the new album from indie songstress Jen Wood, is a powerful collection of ten piano-based pop songs that showcase a refreshingly more bold and vibrant voice in Wood’s singing style; one that hasn’t been heard on her previous albums. Wilderness is rich in swells of beautiful soundscapes, gritty electronic melodies and a haunting timbre that slowly moves throughout. It is her first release since 2010’s Finds You In Love, and marks a sharp departure for the Seattle-based musician.
The driving force of Wood’s new sound highlights Gameboy/Chiptune melodies; composed by musician Andy Myers (Stenobot, Supercommuter), shaping Wood’s songs into the electronic/digital realm. The percussion arrangements took months of rehearsals, while Wood closely worked with drummer Alex Westcoat (Pickwick, Dave Bazan) to create dynamically interesting beats that melded perfectly with the feeling of each song; the thoughtfulness of the arrangements on Wilderness is undeniable.
“On this album, I’m playing everything on piano as the lead instrument. Not guitar,” Wood says, and elaborates, “I’ve been a guitar player for over twenty years and had barely any experience writing actual songs on piano. I didn’t plan on writing a piano record, it just happened. I bought an old 1930s piano and had a special connection with it. The minute I started playing that piano, the songs just poured out of me. I couldn’t stop writing.”
Wood goes on to explain that her new album “is about what happens when you lose yourself in another person or in a community, because I felt that a lot of what I was going through during the writing of this record was dealing with the pressure to conform to something that was foreign to me, and the disappointment and deception I experienced as I struggled to find my way back to my roots.”
“Where Real Love Is” reels the listener in with beautiful washes of lush swooning guitars and calming synth melodies. The atmosphere is thick and almost ethereal. The feeling of the song is calming, but there’s an assuredness in Wood’s voice as she sings “I will not fall into your trap / like an animal waiting to be killed.” Wood explains, “A lot of this song (and the album) also has to do with being exposed to Christian culture for the first time, and the impact it had on me. Some of it was good, but most of what I experienced and witnessed happening in the church was really disheartening and awful. At times I felt really silent and disempowered. The only way that I got out what I was truly thinking and feeling was by writing songs; I think music has always been my ‘voice’ in times where I felt silenced.”
Wilderness was recorded in a host of locations, including London Bridge Studio, Studio Litho, and two different home studios, with producers Joshua Myers (Jeremy Enigk, Rosie Thomas) and Steven Aguilar (The Head and the Heart, Moby, David Bazan).
In a career spanning more than two decades, beginning with the Riot Grrrl duo Tattle Tale and her 1997 debut album No More Wading, Wood has collaborated with many high-profile artists, lending her vocals to artists such as Jeremy Enigk (Sunny Day Real Estate) and the Postal Service, where she sang her famous duet “Nothing Better” with Ben Gibbard live during the band’s 10 year anniversary reunion tour.
Wilderness is scheduled to be released in North America on October 14th (on vinyl via Radar Light and on CD via New Granada), and also in Japan on indie label & Records, with bonus tracks not found on the U.S release.

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