The sheer talent that our world has to offer never ceases to amaze me. I am constantly blown away by the music that I have yet to discover and Jen Gloeckner’s new album VINE is no exception.
As I listen to VINE, I am drawn to the atmospheric depth of the album. The overall soundstage and sonic presentation truly defy explanation and the only way to fully appreciate this sonic masterpiece is to listen to it for yourself. That said, I will offer you, dear reader, my own subjective opinion and trust that I can capture a mere fraction of the essence that is Jen Gloeckner’s VINE.
Whenever I commence a review, I like to do a little background research. Sometimes it is to clarify facts, other times it is for no other reason than mere curiosity. Curiously, Gloeckner’s Twitter account simply states in the about section: Living, dreaming, singing. I found that tidbit of information intriguing as listening to Gloeckner’s music truly gives you a sense of life being merged with dreams, culminating in song. However, that wasn’t the only astonishing revelation I came across as I found out the album was produced and recorded entirely in Gloeckner’s bedroom. I kid you not, it is stated in the liner notes! The reason I bring it up is that I am simply amazed that such an epic performance could be captured in a non-traditional location. While I acknowledge that the recording studio is also not always the greatest location for numerous reasons, I can’t help but wonder how much the aforementioned culmination of life and dreams were as a direct result of the recording location. Regardless, it has resulted in an album that is a must listen for anyone who is interested in ambient music with a touch of seductively haunting vocals.
Vine is, as many of the songs are, a sonic wonderland that is not only beautiful but mystical and haunting. The song is incredibly relaxing as Gloeckner’s vocal delivery is perfectly suited to this style of music.
Breathe is a perfectly balanced song. Rather than simply listening to the song, you become immersed in the soundstage as the song builds around you. That is certainly the feeling I get when I listen to the album with headphones. It is strange at first because so very few songs are recorded and mastered in this manner, but I appreciate the inclusive feeling as it brings me one step closer to the musician. Breathe also showcases the incredible control and clarity Gloeckner has over her vocal delivery.
Ginger Ale has me swaying from side to side. I can’t stress how much I am enjoying the mix and mastering of this album. You honestly get the feeling that you are the only person present in a personal concert with Gloeckner at the helm. The more I listen to Ginger Ale, the more I want to play it. It is nothing short of exceptional and is one of the best new songs I have heard this year.
The Last Thought has an oriental feel that I enjoy, but I don’t find myself connecting with this song as much as I have with the previous tracks. That isn’t to say it is bad, just that Ginger Ale is a hard act to follow. I also feel there is a lack of vocal depth between the vocal interludes. It subsequently reduces the echo that I assume Gloeckner was aiming for. That all said, it is still a very pleasant song.
Blowing Through is a lovely composition, but I would love to hear more separation between Gloeckner’s vocal and the backing instrumental track as her vocal gets lost in the soundstage. A couple of decibel drop in the instrumental track would be perfect in my option.
Counting Sheep is a lovely song that will help you go to sleep! Seriously, it is so soothing that I couldn’t initially describe the feeling. At first, I wondered if the song simply wasn’t appealing to me, yet I wanted to listen to it again and again. At the same time, by the end of each listen, I could have quite happy slipped into sleep. It is unique and perhaps the best thing I can say about Counting Sheep is that you should listen to it for yourself and as you close your eyes, see where the darkness and dreams take you.
Prayers, by comparison to Counting Sheep, will wake you from your slumber with an increased rhythmic beat. I absolutely love the raw feminine tonality of Gloeckner’s vocal in this song. However, I am less pleased with the level of distortion that is present as I find it distracting.
Colors is a simply stunning song.
Row With The Flow has a really intriguing backing vocal throughout the chorus. It is almost demonic sounding in an otherwise peaceful song. It reminds me of the style I would normally associate with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. When I first heard Row With The Flow I was unsure if I liked it, but it does grow on you the more you listen to the song.
I am Sold on this album! On a serious note, Sold closes out the album perfectly. The song itself is unlike any other on the album, yet it is strangely familiar and encourages me to listen to the album once again. I also love the gradual reduction in volume towards the end of the track. This technique is present across the entire album and it is a shame that it is not as common a practice amongst musicians as it once was.
VINE is an album that I implore you to listen to, if not purchase, as it is truly worth the investment. Having never heard Gloeckner’s work before, I can say with complete honesty that I am now a fan. I’m also looking forward to exploring her back catalogue, reviewing albums such as Miles Away and Mouth Of Mars.
This review was based on listening to an MP3 320kbps edition of the album that was provided to me by the artist’s management. While I would usually prefer to review an album based on FLAC CD-quality tracks, with a bit rate of 1,411 kbps, I can assure you that the mastering is done so well that I’m sure I couldn’t tell the difference if I had both editions side-by-side. VINE once again proves that if an album is well recorded and mastered, then the delivery format need not be a contentious issue. The bottom line is: regardless of how you listen to this album, your ears will thank you.