The fact that the fourth album from Australian artist Jen Cloher is self-titled speaks volumes.
The first single from the album, “Forgot Myself”, Cloher writes unflinchingly about the sacrifices and difficulties of maintaining a long-distance relationship. The accompanying video premiered by Bob Boilen on NPR’s All Things Considered.
Of the songs inspiration, Cloher said “You want to be with (your partner celebrating big moments in their life but at the same time you have your own life to live thousands of miles away. It’s easy to stop taking care of yourself. Easy to forget yourself”
A letter in triplicate addressed to the themes of love, music and Australia, “Jen Cloher” is the culmination of a period of artistic and personal growth in which the artist took her rightful place as a punk-rock figurehead of Melbourne’s famous DIY music scene. She is an outspoken advocate for artist rights and co-founder of the incredible Milk! Records label, which includes the likes of Courtney Barnett and Fraser A. Gorman among its luminaries. Since 2014, her output has been increasingly biting, witty and poetic, with her last album, the critically lauded “In Blood Memory” representing an artistic apex for the artist and garnering her a prestigious Australian Music Prize nomination.
Released in August 2017 through Cloher and Barnett’s own label Milk! Records “Jen Cloher” represents another quantum leap forward for the artist. Recorded amidst the rolling greenery of South-Eastern Australia and mixed at Jeff Tweedy’s famous Loft Studios in Chicago, the songs are split by Courtney Barnett’s extraordinary lead guitar and anchored by the rhythm section of Bones Sloane and Jen Sholakis. The end result is bold, assured, and piercingly observed, seeing Cloher face up to painful truths with unwavering honesty and emerge triumphant. On tracks like “Analysis Paralysis” and “Shoegazers” Cloher dissects the complacency of privilege, while on the stirring anthem-to-be “Strong Woman” she looks to her Maori heritage of women warriors, proud that her Mother “wanted respect more than love.”
This is Cloher at her most incisive and witty, cutting and poetic, and represents possibly her most stunning body of work to date.