Jen Cloher: Jen Cloher

- Having a self-titled record is a rite of passage that many artists venture through. Sometimes music is so personal and so unequivocally you that that is the best fitting name for it, but it’s an uncommon thing to do when said record is your fourth LP. Jen Cloher has done exactly that – her most recent effort sums up the complexity of her life in eleven tracks of guitar driven, woman powered work.

Opening track Forgot Myself sets the mood of the record: dead pan vocals, a slow burning guitar line, and witty, clever lyrics immediately show a maturity that’s refreshing in this current world of rock songs that revel in adolescent reflection. Regional Echo flows in a dreamy way and Cloher’s softly sung vocals drift through your ears like grass seeds in the wind. It also captures the overall aesthetic she is trying to conjure in your mind, quite successfully.

Strong Woman is a blast of energy in the otherwise downtempo record: the lyrics evoke more of that old, teenage self than other songs on the record – but that's not inherently a bad thing, after all, not all of our teen memories were totally awful.

Besides the references to the agony of teenage angst, her lyrics speak the wisdom of a woman who has come to terms with the ways of the world. The narrative style lyrics tell stories that sound cut straight from her journal: day-to-day occurrences that could be construed as either bland or fickle but instead sound pleasingly honest. Sometimes the words become savage, like in Shoegazers which offers the observation “most critics are pussies who wanna look cool” which further reinforces the ironic disconnect between Cloher's strong message and relaxed delivery.

This record's only shortcoming is, in some parts, Cloher’s songs tend to drag on too long – her straightforward, mellow and slightly depressing delivery can struggle to keep your attention across a seven minute track.

By the same token, everything on this record feel deliberate and important: no bells and whistles have been added for the sale value. It's admirable, too many artists tend to try and sell themselves, when all they need to do is be themselves, as Jen Cloher has painstakingly done throughout this whole LP.

Veteran artists run the risk of repeating themselves or worse, trying to reinvent what they do and ruining everything they had in the first place. Jen Cloher has just walked straight on through all of that. This is a strong, mature record that really defines who she is and strives to be – if you didn’t know her, you will now.

- Olivia Shoesmith.

Album Details

Album Title: Jen Cloher
Artist: Jen Cloher
Record Label: (Milk!)