Jenny O. Crafts a Retro Summer Soundtrack on Debut Album ‘Peace and Information’
Long Island-native turned Angelino Jenny O. is the musical embodiment of two generations. Sonically, she sounds like a California dream dipped in whatever acid was being passed around at Woodstock (not the brown acid). Thematically though, she touches on the issues one would expect an artist to be sung about in 2017. As a young woman navigating an increasingly complex world where outside forces tend to seep into everyday life, Jenny O happily takes on the challenge of turning her thoughts into daring and reverent songs. Her new album “Peace and Information,” the follow-up to 2013’s “Automechanic,” finds the singer-songwriter soaking in all that surrounds her, including the California sun.
Unfortunately, though, for Jenny and many others, what surrounds her in 2017 is a lot of division and negativity, which she’s happy to sing about. The title, “Peace and Information,” is a true sign of the times. The name stems from her desire to see resolutions to conflicts around the world. “Specifically, at the time, Israel was bombing Gaza and no one was talking about it,” she says. “I wished those people peace and information but the sentiment worked for me spiritually too.”
The concept seems incredibly simple of course, but in today’s world, where level-headedness isn’t a prevalent attribute, it’s worth noting. She recently premiered her new single “People,” a song denoting another, nearer conflict. Jenny wrote this during the Ferguson riots in 2014. During this time, the national conversation was black versus white, cops versus citizens, and Jenny felt that division and took to paper. “I was thinking about the Ferguson protests,” she says. “And authority and racism in America.”
A Crosby, Stills & Nash-style guitar progression leads Jenny into the opening lines “It was a bad day on the street, they had a barricade for the angry.” Her cascading vocals lend a sense of longing to the song until the chorus which bursts with color and light. “People” is like two songs in one, a different world from verse to hook, each as beautiful as the last.
This sonic sense of nostalgia found on the single is no mistake, however. “Peace and Information” was recorded entirely on tape. “Well it just feels nice, it sounds better, richer,” Jenny says of the sound. But she also appreciated the complexity. “Recording to tape creates a few more restrictions and I like having to work within those parameters. Like, a limited number of tracks, and you can’t keep alternate takes. You just have to commit to something you did or erase it.” Jenny and her producer Jonathan Wilson have been recording on tape since they were young – Wilson has lent production to records from artists like Erykah Badu and collaborated with bands such as Father John Misty. He’s currently on tour with Roger Waters.
“Peace and Information” is an album full of gems. “If You’re Lonely” follows a bossa nova format, featuring Jenny’s effervescent vocals; on “Seashells” she takes a crack at surf-blues replete with background strings and a blistering slide guitar solo; “Hey Tumbleweed” sees the singer strolling through a soft rock oasis. Much of this album could be listened to in a hammock with a frosty boat drink, while the rest is worthy of a dance in the sand. It’s a hard sound to pin down other than that it’s complex and varied, but altogether made for the daylight. Jenny likes to keep it simple, though. “I like to say I play rock n’ roll.”
“Peace and Information” is available Aug. 4 on Apple Music.