This album doesn’t come out until next Tuesday (February 5th) but because that conflicts with the release of the new Thao and the Get Down Stay Down album, I wanted to give Jenny O the jump start because the album is spectacular. If you hate reading then all you need to know about Jenny’s full length debut is that you should buy it.
Jenny O: the body of Patti Smith, the soul of Janis Joplin, the voice of Stevie Nicks. At least this was the impression I got after seeing her open for Father John Misty back in September. I say this not to limit her to some kind of look-a-like, sound-a-like, or feel-a-like persona, but because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Jenny’s debut album Automechanic, it’s that she’s an unpredictable genius.
After listening to her self-released 2011 EP Home, I had general expectations for what I would hear on Automechanic, even after hearing the albums title track. What I was anticipating was more of the same, cutesy indie folk-pop, and was pleasantly surprised to find that this album was deeper, wider, and more mature. As much as I loved adorable songs like Well Ok Honey from Home, Automechanic displays Jenny’s growth as an artist. The end result is guaranteed to be one of the years best.
Produced by Jonathan Wilson, who co-produced and infused catchy vintage hooks into Father John Misty’s Fear Fun, Wilson does the same here. Automechanic has the feeling of a worn out dance floor at a gritty midnight discotheque from a bygone era. Songs like Come Get Me and Good Love, are modern Disco classics, a mirrored ball, polyester jumpsuits (Jenny wore a red corduroy jumpsuit when I saw her back in September) and maybe even a pair of white lace-up roller skates, ooze from these songs like dance floor sweat.
On the other hand you have songs like the impeccably crafted Lazy Jane, which could be a stolen B-side from Rumors. Fans of Jenny’s previous work will still find solace in folk-pop songs like Get Lost, or Dope Van Gogh, as well as some country twang, that felt very reminiscent of Fear Fun. The thing about this album is that it’s all over the map, Jenny hops from genre to genre in a way that was similar to Ruby Fray’s Pith from last year. Unlike Pith which felt like an erratic collection of songs, Automechanic moves seamlessly from sound to sound. This might be the albums most enduring quality, on the surface it sounds like twelve disparate elements linked by the constraints of the albums four corners, but each song flows together with impossible beauty, not jarring or unsettling, but smooth and delicious.
My initial expectations were so far from Automechanic’s grease covered undercarriage of a classic car, that I wasn’t immediately sure how to feel. After a couple listens I quickly found that this was the only album I wanted to listen to. I couldn’t get over how well written and produced these songs were. Though Jenny O’s voice retains the familiar girlish charm, it blends so perfectly on this album with the deeper cuts. Ugh! Lazy Jane is an instant classic, to put it in superficial and banal words.
Home was just a five song EP, but was quickly picked over by music supervisors on television shows and commercials. Automechanic is a massive leap forward for Jenny and her stellar songwriting, it’s a sure bet that these songs will be everywhere. I know that I’ll be surprised if I don’t get yelled at more than once for playing this album on a loop.
On February fifth you’ll find Automechanic at all the usual online retailers, visit Jenny O’s website for more information. In the meantime check out Jenny’s wonderful Daytrotter session.