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Jenee Halstead – Raised by wolves

juli 18th, 2012 at 10:58

Thematic monument.

In 2008 Jenee Halstead made quite an impression with her self-released The river grace. In Evan Brubaker’s serene production she combined folk, country and singer-songwriter with her very emotional lyrics. They breathed enormous loneliness, also because of the often metallic sound of her voice.

The five songs on Hollow bones, an ep that was added to a later version of  The River Grace, were strongly influenced by country, but only the title song contained the mystery that was heard so strongly on Halstead’s debut.

However, in her eleven new songs that mystery returns abundantly, although Halstead adopted another musical identity during the sessions with producer/co-composer Evan Brubaker. She threw away all songs but two that she had written on the guitar for those sessions and wrote other ones. She did that on the piano and on the ukulele she lent, instruments that she did not play before.

In these songs she and Brubaker surprisingly combine traditional instruments like banjo, ukelele, bass and drums with as such often cold electronic rhythms. The sound, influenced by  Sam Phillips, Tom Waits and P.J. Harvey, contrasts with the string instruments, but also complements them in an intriguing way. These electronics were applied so sparsely that a lot of room remains for Halstead’s vocals. They sound icier and more desperate than ever at the same time, because Halstead’s emotions shine through her new musical personality continuously.

Halstead’s lyrically strongly interwoven songs about loss, longing, lust and love constitute a  uncommonly intense masterpiece.


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