The narrative behind Jen Gloeckner appears to fit her alt-folk sound perfectly. Her new album Vine has been released via Spinning Head Records and was recorded in her own Hazy Sky studios. These are names which suggest an air of the psychedelic and you would be right to assume so. Plunge into Gloeckner’s world and it feels as though you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. So what’s waiting for you in Wonderland?
The haunting intro we are given with the title track is spellbinding but not exactly inviting. The bass, piano and multi-layered atmosphere leave me in a state of intrigue and borderline perplexity. This is enhanced by Firefly (War Dance) and its swelling tribal tones.
Like a whirlwind weekend, Vine is an experience which will bring you back, but not straight away.
It’s not until ‘Gentle Ale’ that I feel I’ve landed on solid ground. The percussion and strings bring the journey back down to Earth momentarily and it makes for the most coherent piece so far. I often find that ethereal and dreamlike compositions benefit from being partially tethered to an arranged structure rather than being allowed to drift off into Neverland. This is why ‘Blowing Through’ and ‘Prayers’ stand out for me as well. They have a recognisable beginning, middle and end. A base which all great stories need to succeed.
What they also need is a captivating narrator, but Jen is a bit hit and miss in this role. Sometimes she acts as another layered instrument and other times she gives us a haunting harmony which often trudges rather than glides. This may be down to overuse of effects to match the atmosphere.
‘Sold’ provides a short finale and a pause for thought. The title being the operative word which leaves me reflecting over the album and whether Jen has succeeded in selling her world to me. Like a whirlwind weekend, Vine is an experience which will bring you back, but not straight away.
By Will Hunt
A sonic adventure with palpable atmosphere
Gloekner’s vocal occasionally lacks impact
An album to revisit after some time away
|2. Firefly (War Dance)|
|4. Ginger Ale|
|5. The Last Thought|
|6. Blowing Through|
|7. Counting Sheep|
|10. Row With the Flow|