This year I’ve had almost too much music to keep up with, what with lots of new releases from my favorite bands to much buzzed-about records from artists mainstream and emerging. Then, as often happens, through the magic of the Internet I was introduced to Jen Gloeckner, whose new album Vine is dark, sparkly and ambient affair.
Her voice has a raspy-yet-full, deep-yet-delicate quality, akin to Stevie Nicks or Fiona Apple. It’s a tone that demands to be listened to and taken seriously without pretense of what a female vocalist “ought” to sound like. Plus, the backing tracks of songs like “Ginger Ale” and “Counting Sheep” are so dreamy and echoey that her voice becomes the spine of the songs, with lots of brighter, glimmering tones around. Lyrically, Gloeckner can be sassy or thoughtful but ultimately sensual and expressive. She’s got that blend of assertive yet feminine down to a science, and it manifests musically, too — take the song “Breathe,” for example, that feels a little nu wave in its synth use with thoroughly modern drum beats mimicking a dance track.
She doesn’t come across like a singer-songwriting whose dying to fit in with the trends or fill some sort of cultural niche — and I like that about her. I like the way her songs come off as a manifestation of a time, place and scene only imagined by a sole creator to be extrapolated out in sound to listeners at large. It’s mood music through and through, equal parts other worldly, mature and serene.