'was never.will never be,' Jennie Sadler
As a systems engineer for internet music-hosting platform Bandcamp, Brattleboro's Jennie Sadler is embedded in the current hub of artist-to-fan culture. Sadler has been self-releasing music on the site since it was founded in 2007. In her past work, Sadler's songwriting was akin to the outsider artist nature of (Sandy) Alex G's genre-blending indie rock. Sadler's upcoming eighth release, was never.will never be,
contains vulnerability, guarded with distortion that would make PJ Harvey proud.
Much like fellow Brattleboro solo musician Bella
(subject of last week's
review), Sadler exerts complete control of her creative process. By recording and mixing her own work, she maintains an almost psychic connection with the listener, unfiltered by another human channel. The album is full of experimental stereo effects and mixing nuances that are balanced, yet decidedly untraditional.
On "Waste," heavy and distorted guitar and synth organ persist in a shoegaze drone over a downtempo beat lightened by shaker and tambourine. Sadler's alto voice unleashes in a bluesy, vibrating timbre, its wild beauty hoisted by the dark surrounding instrumentation. The 9-minute track unfolds like a night spent alone, processing trauma. Small rhythmic changes and synth oscillations evoke a feeling of breaking through cyclical thoughts with new realizations. There is an earned bitterness in Sadler's lyrics, those of an abused lover. She sings, "I try and I cry / And you tell me not to fight / But I've finally moved on / You can't stop me / I'm free."
This bitter honesty presents itself again on "Unloved." The song almost sounds like a samba on the grave of a toxic relationship. Casual guitar rhythms and loose, syncopated percussion contrast the lyrics: "So many times you choose me / So many times you abuse me / I hope you feel unloved." The following track, "Kind," also addresses the formidable task of finding a respectful partner. The raw instrumentation of both songs wrap around Sadler's commanding voice like armor.
Sadler presents a shift in perspective on "Heaven." Complexly programmed percussive patterns drive loose, grungy rhythm guitar as the singer's voice meanders in improvisatory exaltation, describing heaven as a shared experience between two people.
was never.will never be
is rough around the edges, untamed. Because of those qualities it successfully communicates the resentment that often follows the deterioration of a struggling relationship. Fans of ’90s feminist rock bands such as Hole will revel in its anti-demure attitude.
was never.will never be
will be released on September 17. Preorder and preview the album at Bandcamp