Free and legal MP3: Jen Olive (undulating acoustic guitar, layered vocals)

A swirly, heady stew of loop-addled acoustic guitar and shimmering layers of vocals, “Wire Wire” feels rich and complex while still offering the simple pleasure of a good melody, smartly delivered. While comparisons are at once inevitable and instructive–Björk meets Jane Siberry meets Juana Molina is one way to conceive of her sound–I am enchanted by the head-turning newness of the end result.

“Wire Wire” – Jen Olive

A swirly, heady stew of loop-addled acoustic guitar and shimmering layers of vocals, “Wire Wire” feels rich and complex while still offering the simple pleasure of a good melody, smartly delivered. While comparisons are at once inevitable and instructive–Björk meets Jane Siberry meets Juana Molina is one way to conceive of her sound–I am enchanted by the head-turning newness of the end result. Olive writes outside the box of the beat, floating the melodic line in the verse like elusive tinsel that decorates the tree without touching the branches. The warm sturdiness of the short chorus becomes all the more delectable, almost mysteriously so; she sings, “I could get/Lost in it/No regret,” to a straightforward melody that out of context might not strike your ear and yet here hooks and nourishes in a wonderful, almost uncanny way.

I have no idea how someone could conceive of writing this sort of song and it may well be because no one person did; it turns out that Warm Robot, Olive’s new album, is the product of a unique collaboration between the singer/songwriter and Andy Partridge, who personally signed her to his Ape House Records label. (The XTC front man has called Olive “this astounding allegro algorithm from Albuquerque.”) She recorded the basic tracks–guitar and voice and some idiosyncratic percussion sketches made on found objects like kids’ blocks and wine bottles–and Partridge arranged and enhanced to create the final songs. The two didn’t meet face to face until the album was already finished.

The Ape House blog by the way has a two-part podcast online featuring the entire album with track-by-track commentary by Olive, worth checking out if you have time.

And I stand corrected on the loop business. Which makes this song all the more original, says me.

One thought on “Free and legal MP3: Jen Olive (undulating acoustic guitar, layered vocals)”

  1. That’s no guitar loop you’re hearing. It’s Jen playing it live, unedited, throughout the song. The song which she wrote entirely by herself, only aided by Mr. Partridge in adding a few little sounds and a shimmery mix. She’s the real deal.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s