By Alana Riddle
Artist: Jen Cloher
Album: Jen Cloher LP
Release Date: August 11, 2017
Jen Cloher’s fourth album is a self-titled tribute to a period of artistic and personal growth in her life. The Melbourne based singer-songwriter has now consistently put out albums that speak to perosonal experiences with womanhood, her past, her home, and her relationship with Courtney Barnett, who plays guitar and does some back-up vocals on the album. Although Cloher’s sound is similar to that of her partner, this album differentiates itself by limiting the amount of lyrics and focusing on the song structure, while the lyrics still manage to allow each song to strike its own chord and offer its own type of emotional significance to the listener.
What stands out most about Jen Cloher is the movement from song to song, as it transitions from high energy to melancholy, all while being a cohesive and deeply introspective reflection on Cloher’s life experiences and her relationship to her world. The third track of the album, “Regional Echo”, is where the album initially begins to noticeably change tone. In this track, Cloher gives a mellow reflection that seems a bit resigned, with the lyrics “I’m never gonna lose my head to the setting sun, I’m never gonna dream of things that just can’t be done.” This track is immediately followed by one of the standouts of the album, “Sensory Memory”. This song is an intimate reflection on the pros and cons of being in a relationship with a woman who, as a successful musician herself, is always on the road. Like this entire album, “Sensory Memory” serves as a medium for Cloher to bare her soul to others, including her partner.
Another standout on the album is “Strong Woman”, a sophisticated punk feminist anthem that goes into Cloher’s experience growing up. As with the rest of the album, Cloher is emotionally candid and sings about her own struggles with gender, sexuality, and the inequalities that have always faced women. Following this song, the album slowly winds down with each track, until the listener arrives at the final song, “Dark Art”, which is a sad, acoustic love song that gives a painfully honest description of the challenges she has endured in her own relationship. It is a gentle, beautiful ending to a visceral album that takes the listener on a Cloher constructed emotional rollercoaster.