Jen Wood — Wilderness
♣ Elegantně spojuje elektronické a organické prvky způsobem, který mi připomíná Band of Horses.
Born: 1976, went to Santa Cruz, California. After recording Getting Past the Static, she moved back to Seattle.
Location: Seattle, Washington
Album release: 14 October 2014
Record Label: New Granada, NG042 2014
01 Fell In Love 4:27
02 Run With The Wild Ones 3:16
03 Where Real Love Is 4:30
04 Run To Me 4:11
05 I Never Thought 3:45
06 Mind Wars (Red Shoes) 4:37
07 Believe Me 3:22
08 Not Way Out 4:57
09 In Rewind 6:16
10 In The End 3:11
♣ Piano & Vocals: Jen Wood
♣ Percussion: Alex Westcoat
♣ Gameboy: Andy Myers
♣ Guitar: Greg Suran, Jared McSharry, Joshua Myers, Steven Aguilar
♣ Bass: Andy Fitts, Blake Wescott, Joshua Myers
♣ Backing Vocals: Joshua Myers, Andy Myers
♣ Synthesizers: Joshua Myers
♣ Cello: Collin Isler
♣ Produced by Joshua Myers
♣ Engineered by Joshua Myers and Steven Aguilar
♣ Drums Engineered by Blake Wescott and Steven Aguilar
♣ Mixed by Frank Ciampi
♣ Digital Master by Hans Dekline at Sound Bites Dog
♣ Vinyl Master by Levi Seitz at Black Belt Mastering
♣ Recorded at: Studio Litho, London Bridge, Bearhead Studio and Junkyard of Dreams
By Chris DeVille, Aug 18th '14
♣ Seattle singer–songwriter Jen Wood is best known for duetting with Ben Gibbard on the Postal Service’s “Nothing Better,” but she’s maintained a long and fruitful solo career as well as teaming with the likes of Joan Of Arc and Black Heart Procession. Her latest album, Wilderness, is coming this fall. Lead single “Run With The Wild Ones” is a sweeping, shoot–for–the–rafters sort of song that smartly blends electronic and organic elements in a way that reminds me of Band Of Horses gone chiptune. All that bombast is in service of Wood’s sentimental story about embracing a lifestyle that once seemed compatible with her feminist background. She offered a statement with further explanation:
♣ I wrote this song shortly after getting married. I was struggling to find my new identity, becoming a part of a new family and a totally new culture. I did this very “normal” and socially acceptable thing (marriage), and I found myself literally tying on an apron and becoming a homemaker. I was enjoying all of these super domestic things, and that was weird to realize — especially coming from a culture of feminism. ♣ For so long I just ran wild and free — nothing tied me down. In this song I wanted to acknowledge this hugely profound internal shift that happened in me; I was exposed to a side of life that I’d never known, and to me, it was very much like learning a foreign language, like seeing the world with brand new eyes. It was terrifying, beautiful and confusing all at the same time. Although I’ve been profoundly changed by these experiences, there’s still a part of me that will never conform to any mold. This song is for the rebels, the thinkers, the outsiders and the misunderstood: the wild ones. :: http://www.stereogum.com/
♣ 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, David 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 producer Joshua Myers (Jeremy Enigk, Rosie Thomas). 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.
By Chris Steffen
♣ Seattle musician Jen Wood has been making music for 20 years, from her beginnings in the riot grrrl scene with Tattle Tale when she was just 15 to her appearance on the Postal Service LP and her own solo albums. Her latest, Wilderness, is out on October 14, and finds her shifting from her guitar roots to a piano–centric sound that carries throughout the album's 10 gentle tracks, accompanied by subtle electronic flourishes and her confident voice. Enjoy our full stream of the album and read our conversation with Wood about why she ditched the guitar after 20 years and what she listened to in eighth grade.
AllMusic: The biggest change for you on this album was shifting to a piano-centric sound. What spurred that change?
Jen Wood: I've always written songs on guitar for 20 years, that’s my primary instrument, and I just totally hit a dead end with it, and I put it down. I wasn't excited about it at all anymore. Around that time, my husband and I had gotten this house and we decided we really wanted to have a piano, so we did some piano shopping, and I found this gorgeous 1920s Whitney piano, and the minute I sat down at that piano at the shop, I had a really cool connection with it and I was like, “This is the piano, this is the one.” We took it home and I sat down at that piano and couldn't stop writing on the thing, I just wrote and wrote hundreds and hundreds of songs. It totally drew something new out of my creative soul, and it caught me by surprise, it wasn't part of my plan, like, “I’m going to make a piano record!” It’s been a wonderful surprise.
AllMusic: That has to be pretty daunting, getting out of your comfort zone like that.
Wood: That was really fun, I loved the challenge of learning a new instrument, and it pushed me to work harder. With guitar it felt like I’d plateaued a little bit, so this was intimidating and frustrating, because there were things I was hearing in my head that I wanted to play that I couldn't play, so it forced me to really put in a lot more hours into it. It’s been really cool, now I feel really confident playing it. I still can’t play Bach or anything.
AllMusic: The album sounds like it needs to be listened to in one sitting, you can't just dip your toe in. If you are in the mood for one of these songs, you're probably interested in 10 of these songs.
Wood: This album chronicles the last six years of my life and what I've experienced, what people around me have experienced. So it’s telling a story, very much so, and looking back on my previous records, I’d say this is the first one that has that thematic feeling, that storytelling structure to it.
AllMusic: Who are some other artists you enjoy who make music that's more thematically linked like that?
Wood: Right now I’m obsessed with Jenn Ghetto’s record, Cool Choices, I’m really digging on that [Ghetto also plays guitar in Wood's touring band]. Elliott Smith, I’m a huge fan of his, I love how his albums have a story and a feeling to them, you want to listen to the whole thing, one song after the next, you don’t skip around. Aimee Mann has that vibe, the way she writes songs, and also the new Beck album.
AllMusic: Are you able to mentally flash back through your phases with music? Like if I said "eighth grade," would you be able to name what you were into then?
Wood: Eighth grade was before I started playing guitar, so I was a little Poindexter, I was a really good student, I wore penny loafers, I was trying to be preppy but didn't really fit in, I knew I was always creative and an artist. I was listening to Bobby Brown and Jody Watley and MC Lyte and Whitney Houston. Then you go into high school, and it’s so typical, that huge transition that you make from middle school to high school, so I was like, “Punk rock!” and I dyed my hair green and wore a chain around my neck with a lock like Sid Vicious. But in eighth grade, I was really into pop music, and I hadn't discovered my musical side, even though it’s in my family and my parents were classical musicians, the hippie liberal types. It was in high school that, like most kids, I got angry at the world.
AllMusic: What happened to your eighth grade records, did you keep them around and secretly listen to them sometimes?
Wood: I threw it all out.
AllMusic: All at once?
Wood: Yeah. I was like, “I’m punk rock now,” and I was super anti–mainstream music. I was in Seattle, there was so much cool music happening, and I feel lucky that I grew up in the city. I started to realize there was way more interesting stuff happening here than what was on mainstream radio. Then I started playing guitar and got into the riot grrrl thing and this whole new wave of feminism that was really exciting, and I have to give a lot of credit to those ladies and for that community, because they lifted me up and gave us a platform where we could be safe and have a voice in a very dude–centric scene. If we went year to year, it would be some pretty big changes.
Artist Biography by Mike DaRonco
♣ No More Wading After several years fronting the acoustic duo known as Tattle Tale, vocalist Jen Wood parted ways from the band and her hometown of Seattle in 1996 for Santa Cruz, California. During her yearlong tenure, she recorded a number of heartfelt pop songs that only consisted of her and her acoustic guitar. Released on her own label, Radar Light, all 11 tracks would make up the No More Wading album that debuted on cassette in 1997. Following the recording of her second album, Getting Past The Static, that same year with that dog. violinist Petra Haden, Wood moved back to Seattle and saw her work released by W.I.N. Records in 1998. Following a split EP on Tree Records with Joan of Arc frontman Tim Kinsella, Wood's first official album, No More Wading, was reissued in May of 1998. Collaborations with Jeremy Enigk and Postal Service followed, with the latter yielding the hit single "Nothing Better" in 2002. ♣ In 2010 Wood issued her official sophomore outing, Finds You in Love, via New Granada. The piano and electronica–driven Wilderness followed in 2014.
1997 Getting Past the Static (Win)
1997 No More Wading (Tree)
2010 Finds You in Love (New Granada)
2014 Wilderness (New Granada)
1993: Tattle Tale (with Tattle Tale)
1995: Sew True (with Tattle Tale)
1996: No More Wading
1997: Getting Past the Static (1997)
2000: This Uncontainable Light (EP)
2002: Traveling through Roots
2003: Jen Wood (EP)
2010: Finds You in Love