Turntable handle
Apr 30, 2018

Heard In My House (Mar/Apr) Part 2

Two more great women songwriters have dominated my listening lately. 

 Jen Cloher – Jen Cloher (album rating – really, really, really good)

In my blogpost In Honor of Women’s History Month, I wrote about the awesome indie rocker Courtney Barnett.  It was while researching Courtney that I learned about her partner and labelmate, Jen Cloher.  I love it when one new artist leads you directly to another.

Courtney Barnett had been Jen Cloher’s guitar player and apparently Jen Cloher is Courtney’s partner and musical mentor.  Their styles have a fair amount in common but of course are each unique unto themselves.   For instance I definitely hear more Patty Smith in Jen’s music.  So take one part Courtney and one part Patty Smith, and maybe sprinkle in some punky Sleater Kinney and you’ll at least be in the right ball park.

This is not Jen’s first album.  So it’s interesting that it is self-titled.  But it’s such a personal statement that it makes sense.   It’s about her relationship with songwriting, her place in the music industry and her relationship with Courtney.

Shoegazers is one of the harder rockers on the album.  It expresses Jen’s frustration with the music industry and also with Courtney’s success

". . . Indie Rock is full of privileged white kids
I know because I’m one of them
Who else has the luxury to gaze backwards
I went out on the road with my girlfriend
I watched her have the career most people dream of . . .
it doesn’t sound so bad , , ,
. . .but it’s exhausting up here on the surface.
. . .Most critics are pussies who want to look cool
Those who can, they do, those who can’t review
What’s hot today is forgotten tomorrow . . .
. . . .all that you got is your joy and your sorrow."


To me, it’s surprising that she blasts reviewers.   It seems unlikely that she has received many bad reviews.  

Regional Echo is softer with a beautiful melody complimented with subtle expressive lead guitar.  Jen seems resigned to her accept her level of success. 

". . .I’m never gonna lose my head to a setting sun
I’m never gonna dream of things that just can’t be done.
I’m never gonna say, never gonna do, never gonna be
Anything more than what’s expected of me. . ."


The album closes with the beautifully subtle acoustic Dark Art.

". . . Loving you is like a bright star
Loving you is like a bright star
You seem closer than you are
Loving you is like a bright star."

Really simple. Really nice.


Zoe Muth – World of Strangers - (album rating - particularly excellent)

What a great surprise this album was for me.  I had never heard of Zoe, but was looking for some interesting vinyl from roots label Signature Sounds.  So I found Zoe.  Great stuff.  The album straddles the lines between country, alt-country, and folk.  She recorded it soon after moving from Seattle to Austin.  In Austin she assembled a top shelf collection of Austin musicians to help her bring these songs in directions beyond their country roots. 

Zoe immediately reminded me of Iris Dement, but with less twang in her voice.  Further listens have brought Mary Gauthier to mind. Mary is known for writing heart wrenching songs (see Tearjerkers Pt1 blog post) about hobos and addicts and other travelled people with interesting lives.

The drifter in Annabelle could be straight from a Mary Gauthier song. 

". . . Annabelle, all the stories you tell
are about bus stations and trains.
And all the folks you will never know well
You remember by the names of the places from where they came
I listen like a child,
as you recount the trials of the strangers who are closer than your own kin
You can leave your coat on,
‘cause I know it won’t be long till you slip out the back door again. . ."

April Fool (Ronnie Lane cover) is the most ambitious song musically.  It features a great melody, Garthish accordion, some nasty twang guitar and a rocking cello.

Somebody I Know is simply beautiful.  It starts softly with seemingly almost random single note guitar and piano notes backed by ethereal organ.  It shifts into a beautiful piano based melody that builds to a crescendo to ask an intimate question.

". . . I’ve been living in my mind too long
Making small talk so my lonely heart don’t show
Sinking into the slow moving dream of life
Won’t you come and go with me . . .
. . . In a world of strangers and stranger things
Will you be somebody I know?"


-Alan Likes Music