Jen Gloeckner – VINE (Album Review)

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VINE is the enchanting new album from Jen Gloeckner, a collection of folk-pop-electronica, carrying a haunting tone throughout. Recorded and produced in her bedroom, VINE was mixed by Brian McTear who has previously worked with War on Drugs and Kurt Vile.

To say this album is a whirlwind of exploration would be an understatement – VINE gives us everything, from the deep haze of its opening title track to the eerie tones of ‘Firefly (War Dance)’. We’re only two tracks in and already seeing different sides to Gloeckner.

Before we know it, we’re hit with the busy nature of ‘Breathe’. What is seemingly an effort to intrigue the listener comes off a little too strong, not so much intensified, more grating. Generally this track is a little overwhelming, and it comes in too much of a frenzy to make sense of. That being said, there is the potential for it to stand as a strong single for the right moment, rather than the unsettling break it presents in this chilling album.

Nevertheless, in comes ‘Ginger Ale’, a softer track with dreamy vocals and an easygoing melody, a moment of bliss. There is something distinctive about Gloeckner’s vocals; it’s hard to point out exactly what it is, but there is no doubt an edge to her warm voice. It is only something small, barely even noticeable at the best of the times, but just enough to convey a real sense of emotion. It’s not raw, but neither is it sweet, perhaps the best word to describe it is pure.

VINE is a difficult album to ascribe a genre to; that high level of intrigue redeems itself as it gets you thinking, scrambling for the best way to describe it to your friends. Take ‘The Last Thought’, though there is a lot going in, it is presented smoothly, it is light and airy, you can imagine sitting in the sunshine with a cool breeze. This is delightfully backed up by ‘Blowing Through’, a track just as refreshing, albeit with warmer vocals. Yet there are other tracks with more beat than melody – sometimes we’re whisked away, other times we’re living in the very real world of human emotion. Either way, there is an ethereal tone that flickers through the album, whether it’s twinkling melodies and soft vocals to enchant the listener into a dreamworld, or stirring rhythms to send us spinning.

VINE is at times overwhelming, but a stunning record nonetheless.

VINE is out now. Get it via Pledge Music.