If it's difficult to place Jenee Halstead's third album, Raised by Wolves, in any distinct time or place, that's to the singer/songwriter's credit. Nominally rooted in folk and occasionally recalling PJ Harvey's knack for spare, unsettling underwater lullabies, Halstead doesn't quite exist in any specific category; despite some tension-racked drum loops, the music doesn't rock, yet it never succumbs to the soft strumming of folk. She, like Neko Case before her, mines allegories and fables for her songs, but Halstead isn't a cyclone. She floats and observes, almost achieving a spectral presence on her own songs. Certainly, her keen, powerful voice is a gateway into Raised by Wolves, but the music, for as many questions as it raises, is immediate. It's a vivid dream world and one that begs for more than one visit.
For The Sake of The Song Roadshow asked me to cover one of my favorite and inspirational songwriters and I chose Dolly Parton. They also asked me to do an original song inspired by the same artist. I chose 'Dusty Rose' from my debut 'The River Grace.'
Boat boards at 2pm one hour before the cruise. Tickets are available online!
I am pleased to announce this great lineup for April 24th. Please join Connor Garvey Trio, Sorcha Trio and I for a triple threat bill at One Longfellow Square. Get your advance tickets here: http://www.onelongfellowsquare.com/Details.asp?ProdID=1848
Kent Thomas took some lovely footage of our February 27th Club Passim show featuring Audrey Ryan.
Double bill with Audrey Ryan! - 7:00 pm
We will be celebrating the new Dirt Floor Studio space with a live show! Please join us Saturday at 7pm!
My friend Danielle Miraglia and I have a podcast! Every week we get together to discuss the ins and outs of the music industry, creativity, perfomance, our favorite Prince songs and more. You can download us for free on www.letsputitoff.com or on Apple iTunes.
Listen to our first episode "Happy Whore-O-Ween" here: http://letsputitoff.com/-happy-whoreaween
I will be opening for Sarah and Johnny on Sept. 28th at Davis Square Theatre as part of the Heptune's Concert Series! Tickets are available here: http://www.heptunesconcerts.com/page.php?wpage=home/home.htm
I am thrilled to be once again playing this magical evening. Last year was unforgettable! I will be joined by my friends Jonathan Sarty (host), Dan Blakeslee, Conor Garvey, Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards and Jonah Tolchin! Advanced tickets can be purchased here:
Creative coach and screenwriter Leigh Medeiros interviewed me about the creative process and songwriting for her wonderful blog All Creativelike.
I will be a part of this years New England Americana Festival taking place Sept. 27th, 28th and 29th in Harvard Square! Here is the schedule of artists playing:
Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
I am thrilled to announce these upcoming dates with Susan Cattaneo, Patrick Coman and special guests. June 20th is a special show with Susan at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, MA.
Thursday, June 20th, 2013
Susan Cattaneo and Jenee Halstead - 7:00 pm
1667 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge MA 02138 US (617) 547-0759
This is an early show at the Lizard Lounge and a kick off for a series of dates I will be playing with Susan! http://susancattaneo.com/
Friday, June 21st, 2013
For The Sake of The Song Roadshow with Susan Cattaneo, Suzie Brown and Patrick Coman - 8:00 pm
2 E Lancaster Ave Ardmore PA 19003 US
For the Sake of the Song Roadshow will feature a mixture of handpicked Boston artists alongside top local performers, with each performer playing songs from the artist who has most influenced their work alongside their own original material. I will be performing songs from Dolly Parton who has been a great influence on my singing and songwriting.
Saturday, June 22nd, 2013
For The Sake of The Song Roadshow with Susan Cattaneo and Patrick Coman - 7:30 pm
47 Main St. Shelburne Falls MA 01370 US 413 625 6292
Price: Suggested Donation
Wednesday, June 23th, 2013
For The Sake of The Song Roadshow with Susan Cattaneo, Patrick Coman and Brian Dolzani - 8 pm
184 & 186 Bedford Ave Brooklyn NY 11211 US
250 State St New Haven CT 06510 US (203)789-8182 Price: $6 - $8
For The Sake of The Song Roadshow with Susan Cattaneo, Patrick Coman and Johnny Mainstream - 8:00 pm
250 State St New Haven CT 06510 US (203)789-8182
Price: $6 - $8
Audrey Ryan and I will be doing a split bill at Club Passim on Saturday, March 30th! The show starts at 7pm and we are hoping to add a 10pm show. Please spread the word and bring out your friends, family and loved ones. I will have a full band set and Audrey is a full band in herself. We will also be sharing the stage for some songs!
I am excited to once again play the "We Are The 9" Songwriters Series. This time it is in my own home town. It's a great night with nine different voices taking the stage and some collaboration as well. Please come out to Tommy Doyle's in Harvard Square this Saturday, March 2nd at 9pm to join us!
Whispering Bob from famed BBC 2 played "Building You and Altar" tonight on his late Saturday night show! This is the third time Bob has played a song of mine on the BBC, and I always feel honored! Thank you Bob!
Christmas came early this year! I was just notified that I am recipient of the Iguana Fund Grant from Club Passim. Each year Passim awards 10 to 12 artists with this award and I was selected among hundreds of applicants. Here is an explanation of the grant from Passim's website: "The Iguana Music Fund was established in 2008 after a generous donor decided that he wanted to help artists pursue their musical goals. Artists often have the talent and ideas to create incredible music, but they do not always have the financial capacity to do so. To help musicians overcome financial limitations, the Iguana Music Fund awards annual grants worth between $500 and $2,000 to artists with a residential or tour-based affiliation to New England.
These funds are used for specific career-building and community service projects. In the past, the Iguana Music Fund has helped artists cover recording, touring, and equipment costs as well as helped pay for songwriting retreats, music camps, and more. Since 2008, more than $104,000 in grants has funded nearly 70 projects."
I am one happy girl! Thank you to the Iguana Fund Committee and to Club Passim!
Suzie Brown & Jenee Halstead
January 07, 2013 8PM
I am thrilled to be returning to Passim just at the start of a fresh new year with my very talented friend! I always enjoy playing with Suzie, she always inspired me to be better because she is such a great songwriter and performer. Please join us for a fabulous evening of beautiful voices and heart melting songs!
Get your tickets at this link: http://tickets.passim.org/ordertickets.asp?p=2850&backurl=default.asp
Here is the short list of albums of the year in Heaven Magazine! Thank you Heaven for your support these last few years! It means the world to me!
Get your tickets for tomorrow nights show in Marblehead! Guggenheim Grotto is so great and they will just knock your socks off. I am thrilled to be a part of this evening. You can find out more and purchase tickets here: http://www.meandthee.org/
28 Mugford Street
Doors open at 7:30 pm
Music starts at 8:00 pm
Christmas stocking stuffer or other religious holiday sale!! I am offering The River Grace and Raised By Wolves CDs this season as a package for $15 + shipping! Woo hoo! Two amazing albums for your friends and loved ones for the really great price of $15! There are also some $10 Hollow Bones T-Shirts left that the men in your life will dig (women look great in them as well!). Skulls always make people happy...even when they are pink!
I can't thank you enough for the amazing Birthday show at Club Passim with Carsie Blanton! The entire evening was flawless and wonderful! You made it so! Also, thank you for tuning in on Concert Window as well! It is a great gift to play for people all over the U.S. and Europe!
Growing up in the high desert of Spokane, east Washington, Jenee’s hippie parents allowed her to find her own direction in life and to dapple in creativity, and her latest release, RAISED BY WOLVES— which she has dedicated to her mother, Kathy Halstead—seems to be a product of that creative freedom. On the surface, it sounds like a pop record, with a beat box spine. Delve a little deeper, however and there’s a wonderfully sprung riverbed of acoustically fused and fetchingly alternative sounds that complement perfectly her haunting and sultry toned vocals, telling poignant and personal stories along the way. Like her 2008 debut of THE RIVER GRACE, this third release was produced by multi-instrumentalist, Evan Brubaker (Rachel Harrington & The Knockouts; Edie Carey)—both he and Jenee co-wrote nine of the eleven tracks, after scrapping most of the previous for something a little more wild and favourable—and features the instrumental efforts of Danny Barnes (banjo), Joel Litwin (drums) and Colby Sanders (flobro) as well as Evan Brubaker on a monumental nine instruments, including mandolin, tenor guitar and mellotron.
The sultry and darkly composed Havana Dress cracks open proceedings, grabbing attention from its ominous beat box-led opening, whilst the midtemp, skippy existence of Rodeo Of Sadness simplistically follows on, raw and textured by impressively played stringed sounds, yet cloaked in mystery. One of three favourites of mine on the album includes the infectious, guitar-led So Far So Fast—memorable, inspirational and musically rich with sounds, it’s roped with hit potential; Jenee’s vocals fittingly spot on—and the ambiently bubbling Never Another, inspired by American singers songwriter, Elliott Smith’s last moments provides another; Jenee’s vocals taking on a more contemporary tone. Equally so, the beautifully sung title track Raised By Wolves, for me, oozes spiritual wonderment, imagination and beauty and easily provides the record with a highlight. Stunningly closing the album is the gently progressive River Of Doubt, which seems to call upon her childhood memories of nature; the memorable chordal patterns and vibrantly musical backdrop drawing the album to a climatic close. For those who like a voice packed with an emotional charge, yet soft on the ears, as well as mesmerically told stories a little on the enigmatic side, then Jenee Halstead—made of utterly raw, singer-songwriting talent—will take you on an immensely enjoyable journey.
Singer songwriter Jenee Halstead releases her third album ‘Raised by Wolves’, which is a remarkable feat in improvisation – mixing traditional instruments, banjos, mandolins and ukuleles with a subtle blend of electronic blips and wheezes.
‘Raised By Wolves’ is haunting and beautiful, Halstead’s vocals are cold and clear as snow as they cut above the sparse instrumental arrangements. It’s a sign of a powerful song (let alone an entire album) when it stops you in your tracks just so you can get a good listen.
Halstead hails from the high desert of Spokane, Washington, and was raised by hippie parents. Her influences range from Medieval choral works to Dolly Parton, and more obvious references to the likes of PJ Harvey and Kate Bush (never a bad thing!). Her free spirit shines through on Raised By Wolves'. One has to wonder whether the album title was semi-autobiographical?
As an album, 'Raised by Wolves' is eerie, almost like a spell being cast. It’s not an easy listen, but it is curious and intelligent. Halstead sings of obsessive love, loneliness, supernatural nature and all things beyond. Her silky, seductive vocals flip from being delicate and vulnerable to worldly and knowing. They go down like dark red wine, leaving the listener punch drunk. And all this is set against the delightful sparseness of the instrumentation.
It’s a spooky, atmospheric and delightful album that evokes snowy, dark images of the winter months to come. What could be finer?
I did not make it into the finals of the Mountain New Stage contest, but I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who voted and spread the word! I means so much to me! In case you missed it, here is the video of Heart Song just for you.
SPOKANE, Wash. (Sep. 11, 2012)--The UK's widely-read Q Magazine has given the powerfully voiced Jenee Halstead's latest release, Raised by Wolves not only a four star rating, but some brilliant praise and a comparison to one of their own beloved musical forces: PJ Harvey.
"The voice of Spokane, Washington's Jenee Halstead is devilish in a different way, free spirited and animalistic in exactly the way suggested by the title of her second album, Raised By Wolves (* * * *, Continental Song City). Piano and ukulele, banjo and beatbox replace the guitar of her debut, the arrangements stripped to their carrion core by emotional scavengers such as the obsessive narrator of standout track Building You An Altar. It's like PJ Harvey at her menacing and terrifying best."
I am thrilled to announce I am a northeast regional finalist for the 2012 Mountain Stage New Song Contest. All National Finalists will perform at Lincoln Center in New York City in October. The winner receives a fully-funded album and high-profile live performance opportunities on NPR and the Sundance Film Festival. Please vote for me at the link below.
Jenee Halstead re-emerges with Raised by Wolves
Months spent thinking about the wilderness — particularly the possible existence of feral children — ultimately impacted the creativity of Jenee Halstead.
"I was like, 'Wouldn't it be so cool to write an album that was inspired by that' — sort of Kate Bush-y," Halstead recalls. "But I just sort of put it on the shelf."
Not for long, though. When the Boston-based singer/songwriter went to Washington to record with collaborator Evan Brubaker, she had second thoughts about releasing a collection of songs that resembled her previous two efforts.
"I think I looked at him and said, 'I have to start over,' " Halstead says. "And he said, 'You do; you have to start over.' We had been milling around [Brubaker's] house for two days, going into the studio and trying to put stuff down, and it was like, 'Ehhhh.' So there was really no going forth [at that point]."
By deciding to start over, "all the stress just rolled off my shoulders," Halstead says. But in reality, she replaced one form of stress with another. Writing and recording replacement songs inspired by her wilderness obsession (nine total to go along with two other tunes she decided to keep from the original batch) meant working around Brubaker's other studio sessions. It also meant Halstead needed to spend additional time in Washington — with little money coming in.
But the move paid off. The extra time with Brubaker allowed Halstead to play him music by the aforementioned Bush as well as PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and Tom Waits. And doing so opened the door for Halstead, who felt she had reached a dead end "writing country-ish-style songs on my guitar," to comfortably pursue a different musical direction.
"These darker songwriters finally surfaced," she says. "These were people I had been listening to for years, and I just really never knew how to incorporate them as influences [before]."
Writing sessions for what would become Halstead's recently releasedRaised by Wolves album took place in Brubaker's kitchen. And instead of character-based songs, Halstead decided to write in the first person.
She recalls, "In the morning, we would meet, and I would say, 'This is what I have.' And then with our laptops, it's very unromantic — facing each other, looking at the lyrics and editing."
Eventually Brubaker would cross the street to the studio and program rhythm tracks, with Halstead joining him later to offer her input. Then Brubaker and Halstead would track the key instruments and go from there. In the end, they played the majority of the instruments on Raised by Wolves, calling in select musicians as needed to handle other parts.
"For me, in my mind, this was really becoming an electronic album, and I didn't want organic elements," Halstead says. "But Evan is really good at taking two things that seem diametrically opposed and putting them together."
— By Chris M. Junior
Jenee Halstead on tour (schedule subject to change):
* Aug. 17: Milkboy Coffee — Ardmore, Pa.
* Aug. 19: Rock 'n' Roll Marathon — Providence, R.I.
* Aug. 23: The Haven — Jamaica Plain, Mass.
* Aug. 24: Bull McCabe's — Somerville, Mass.
* Aug. 26: Theater in the Wood — Intervale, N.H.
Today is the national release of Raised By Wolves. What better way to celebrate than listening to the entire album on Aol.com/Spinner Full CD Listening Party!! Enjoy!
"Jenee Halstead’s sweet and seductive sway takes full flight on this, the third effort of a still burgeoning career. “So Far So Fast” takes on a rock ‘n’ roll twang, but it’s the exception in this set; most of the songs are cloaked in a dark atmospheric veil that renders them with gothic-like designs. The effect often sounds like Appalachian mountain music propelled with a techno pulse, but Halstead pulls it off superbly, given the saunter and sway of “Building You An Altar,” the sprawling strum of “Rodeo of Sadness” and the gentle cushioning embrace of the mysterious “Bitten By the Night.” Through it all, Halstead’s vocal is a wonder to behold, alternately enticing and alluring, or sinewy and seductive. This is an album that’s mesmerizing throughout, and whether her voice is heard soaring over the clip-clop pulse of the title track or simply in a sensual croon on the pleading “Never Another,” Halstead’s presence is nothing less than hypnotic. Consequently Raised By Wolves shows she’s been brought up right."
Supremely mellow and melodic, singer/songwriter Jenee Halstead’s third album makes a strong and lasting impression on the basis of its beautifully low-key and reflective sensibility alone. Halstead’s exquisitely crystalline voice pierces through the delicately harmonic music with bracing clarity and an achingly sumptuous honeydew sweetness. The tuneful arrangements keep things tight and simple, with deftly spare use of such basic instruments as the banjo, a ukulele, synth bass, and an acoustic guitar producing a warm folksy sound that’s intimate and ethereal in equal measure. Best of all, Halstead’s songwriting smartly mines a nicely touching line in laidback introspection. A lovely album.
When Jenee Halstead entered the studio to record her third album, Raised By Wolves, she made a decision that allowed the her to express some deeply-held feelings and beliefs.
She determined that almost all of the existing material she had been working on for this record had to go. She started fresh.
In its place is a raw, improvised collection of music that has taken Halstead out of the more familiar Americana genre for which she’s so well known and into the realm of dark pop music. The result of this decision is an album of incredible diversity, skill and emotional buy-in from Jenee and the artists she collaborates with— Danny Barnes (banjo), Joel Litwin (drums), and Colby Sander (Dobro). Halstead credits Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris as influences that helped her explore the darker side of her music.
Raised By Wolves shows a breadth of paces, but it’s a range that Halstead conquers, whether it’s “Heart Song,” which uses a steady, pulsating beat, the more lighter tones of “Garden of Love” or the more-rootsy melodies of “Bitten by the Night.” The decision to start this album over from scratch wasn’t an easy one for Halstead. In the past, to just toss out so many songs, especially those that really stuck with her, was difficult, if not impossible. As a result, Halstead tells us she is more willing to take chances on new material and techniques today.
MAX BOWEN for RSL - Thank you for this opportunity Jenee. This new album is quite an achievement. Now that it's complete, how would you say your music has progressed or changed over the years?
JENEE HALSTEAD - I think in some ways it is less precious and at the same time more personal. Less precious because I don't take songs or the writing process as seriously as I did when I started writing in 2006. I know that for a song to become good or great it may really need to be torn about and rewritten and sometimes there is only one phrase that gets taken from the initial writings, but the phrase is the gold nugget from which you build the song. This requires really taking ones ego out of the process or at least putting it aside temporarily in order to serve the song.
A lot of songwriters just get stuck on a phrase because they think it sounds so good on their tongue and refuse to let it go, yet the phrase might be lame or make no sense at all. I used to be like this when I started writing. Now I am willing to throw out just about anything and start over because you know when something isn't going to line up or be interesting for a listener—not that I am writing for the listener, but I am the listener and I can really sense when something doesn't quite do it for me.
RSL - So you were learning about yourself as much as you were about the music...?
HALSTEAD - Yes - In fact, the entire record was a discovery on how much I could put my ego aside because when I got to the studio I decided to scrap the entire album I thought I was going to make with Evan. After several days of milling around the songs just didn't seem interesting to me. I was in the kitchen with Evan and I we sort of looked at each other and realized what needed to be done. I think I said "I need to throw all these songs out and start over" and he agreed. It wasn't like I had anything I was in love with anyway and I was writing on guitar, which was creating similar songs to the first two releases.
I bought a ukulele and spent time on my friends piano. I think three songs were written on guitar and the rest uke or piano. It was so great to stretch myself on instruments I didn't know because it changed everything—the writing, the melodies, where I was singing in my range, everything. I think I am also much more interested in writing pop songs or at least serving the song and not worrying about where the genre lives. I like the idea of stretching out more and writing songs in all genres and letting the production be the glue that brings them together, since I still believe in making albums.
RSL - “So Far, So Fast” was one of my personal favorites of this album. What's the back story behind this song?
HALSTEAD - This is the first song that I wrote for the new album and I had been holding on to it for a couple of years wondering what it meant. I had the feeling and the idea, but I actually had too many lyrics and didn’t know how to pare them down. This was during a time when I was obsessed with Richard Buckner.
I wanted to write a song that was as bold and daring and as fucked (pardon my language) up as a Buckner song. I kept thinking about his song “The Last Ride” that starts out, “Gone somewhere in Texas, Where the cars can run all day. With the doors on the garage shut up and his wife and daughter away.”
The character locks himself in the garage of his house with the car on and thinks about this woman that has obviously haunted him for a long time—the fact that she is not in his life is clearly the characters greatest mistake of his life. He can’t get her out of his mind and he is so tortured by this that he “wonders how long he will wonder about her,” and decides to kill himself.
This was the feel I wanted to bring to this song. I also wanted to bring a feeling of the desolate and stark desert environment of where I grew up in Spokane, Washington and some of the back roads that go into Idaho where I spent a lot of time growing up. I was particularly meditating on the stark winters and what that dry and freezing snow can look like blowing across the prairies.
Ultimately, I had to cut a lot of this, but the song is about a man who is obsessed, and angered by a girlfriend or wife or maybe even a sister, hence the final verse of the song, that has flown the coop to L.A. or some other glamorous city to escape him and escape the boring life that some of these small Northwest farming towns can bring. None of this is actually brought to the lines of the song. This is the just the back story that I was meditating on while writing. The songs is more of like someone’s obsessive internal dialogue and the things they are telling themselves to justify their actions.
RSL - What was it like to record “So Far, So Fast” ? Were there any special recording techniques, instruments or equipment used?
HALSTEAD - This song was really intense to record. I had never sung a song with such forward drive before, and I didn’t want to push the vocals in a way that made it sound oversung or too much like I was straining, but I really wanted to get the intensity across.
When I wrote the song I was experimental with several keys and I think we opted for a key that was a few steps higher than the one I was originally singing it in. We were also listening to a lot of different 80s and current pop and decided we wanted something really stripped down. Evan set the drum tracks and recorded the guitar part on an electric. He made a joke that this had to be shitty guitar playing and that anyone who played the part too clean would ruin the song. “It’s just shitty enough” he stated. After he laid the drums, guitar and bass I came into sing.
We had changed around a few phrases, especially towards to end, so relearning the song in front of the microphone made it a bit of a challenge. I didn’t want to come across like I didn’t know the song because of it’s intensity. By the end of vocal session I was hoarse.
RSL - You’ve listed Sam Phillips, Tom Waits, Richard Buckner, and P.J. Harvey as influences. What role did they play, in your mind, in the formation of this new album?
HALSTEAD - All of these artists influenced this album and have been working on me secretly through the years—in my listening, loving and worshiping of these artists.
I think I always really wanted to write songs that were influenced by them, but didn't really give myself permission or find my own creative footing until this album. With The River Grace, I had some of those songs for 10 years and they were influenced by the artists I loved when I started (Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris). I always listened to the former artists, but felt I needed personal permission to get to the darker places that these artists tend to go.
There are songs on the album that are direct influences from these four artists. For instance, “Bitten By The Night” was hugely influenced by Sam Phillips. In between writing I was trying to play some of her songs on piano to get a feel for the chord choices she uses. I was obsessed with Sam's album “Fan Dance” that a friend had given to me back when I started writing in 2003 and I thought “If I could write one song as good as any of these I would be forever happy.”
P.J. Harvey's 2011 masterpiece Let England Shake sort of blew my mind as well, and I thought this was where I wanted to go. She is doing a dark folk thing with the auto harp and the band instrumentation and the writing on that album is superb. She just keeps getting better and more brilliant, but I felt like I could access her with this album and relate to her in a way I couldn't quite reach before. Richard Buckner directly influenced “So Far, So Fast” and the overall feel of production and darkness is a desire to do anything in the realm of Tom (Waits)... What a well to draw from!
RSL - Do you usually perform alone, or with other artists? Do you see yourself doing anything new now that you have a new outlook and approach?
HALSTEAD - I usually perform alone, but if I do play it is with a four piece band. I have been playing with Russell Chudnofsky on guitar, Jared Seabrook on drums, Karen Sarkisian on pedal steel and the bassist usually varies with anyone I can get. Zach Hickman played for the CD release and sometimes Sean McLaughlin or Jeff Charland play with me. I want to branch out on this album and find a way to incorporate a laptop and some live instrumentation to the show, I just haven't quite gotten there yet. I love the idea of looping and building tracks with my voice and singing on top of that.
RSL - You’ve moved around a lot over the years. How did you come to Boston, and what did you think of the music landscape here?
HALSTEAD - I came to Boston in 2006 to attend the songwriting program at Berklee. I had been going back and forth for years on whether or not I should go to Berklee. I finally moved to Boston and decided during the first three days that I did not want to attend, but instead spend the money on making an album.
Boston is an amazing music town. I am constantly in jaw-dropping wonder about the amount of talent coming out of this city. You get the sense that there are so many lifelong musicians here that come to this city to hone their craft. People are schooled and skilled and amazing in this city.
RSL - Locally, are there any artists you regard as influences or that you particularly enjoy performing with?
HALSTEAD - I love Audrey Ryan and Sarah Blacker as far as women songwriters that I think are incredibly creative and fun to listen to. Dan Blakeslee rocks (he did the opening set at my CD release). Jess Tardy just plain blows me away and needs to be given an award this year or something because she is truly one of the most gifted singers and entertainers in this town. As far as playing with people, there is no one I like to sing with more than Olinde Mandell and Mark Lipman, both great friends and incredible songwriters in their own right.
Continental Song City
The PJ Harvey of Americana.
When Jenee Halstead left for home at the end of April 2011 to write and record her new album, after having been in The Netherlands for five weeks, I urged her that it would be no bad thing for her to try to give her music even more depth and personality. More than any folk or Americana album PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake seemed to be the beacon she was looking towards for the kind of musical innovation she was striving for. That she was able, in close cooperation with producer Evan Brubaker, to deliver such a brilliant result as Raised by Wolves totally surpassed my expectations, for in a completely unique style, incomparable to anything else, Halstead takes us to a world filled with sensuality, heartbreak and longing, in which Americana is just one of the pillars on which her songs rest, even though in the end it might just be the most defining one. That Jenee writes exceptionally well-crafted songs, not in the least because of their apparent simplicity and timelessness, was already clear from her debut-cd The River Grace of 2008 and the following Hollow Bones ep of 2010, records that were released over here in that last year as one cd, and is again a principal feature of Raised By Wolves. Where those earlier records each embodied a clear style, folk/Americana for The River Grace, alt.country for Hollow Bones, Raised By Wolves follows much more of a unique course, that although largely filled in with roots instruments like banjo, ukulele and guitar, is almost always based around a tight mechanical rhythm that, even though it mostly isn’t too much in your face, gives the largely very beautiful and varied songs, a quite dark indie feel that we’ve never really heard like that before. In her singing Halstead has also begun to vary much more. On The River Grace she was championed universally for the Patty Griffin/Shawn Colvin/Emmylou Harris-like qualities of her voice, but on Raised By Wolves she hardly reminds one of any of these three singers and sounds both a lot more sensual and more affecting. On some of the highlights of the album, like Garden Of Love and the incredibly beautiful title track, she even dares to focus on the higher register of her voice to convey a tenderness that is breathtaking in its poignancy. And so almost every song on this gorgeous and daring album has something special to it that makes it totally unique. Where most Americana mainy looks back to the past, Jenee Halstead has the courage to direct her view forwards, with magnificent results. It’s the kind of guts that make her the PJ Harvey of Americana.
****1/2 Pieter Wijnstekers
I am pleased to announce that Continental Record Services is releasing Raised By Wolves on their Song City label. It will be available in Holland and Scandinavia on June 9th, available in Germany on July 12th and in the UK late July. I will keep you posted on the UK release date! The River Grace and Hollow Bones EP are also available as one album on Continental.
The album is officially available for download on iTunes!
Jenee Halstead’s newest album offers up an ever-changing sound that shows both the range of her vocal abilities and the instruments brought together to compliment that skill. Musically, Raised By Wolves crosses more than a few styes, and Jenee’s voice matches perfectly each time, whether it’s the deep, steady rhythm of “Heart Song,” the light, upbeat sounds of “Garden of Love” or the edgy, Americana twang of “Bitten by the Night.” Whatever the music, Jenee’s able to keep pace and show her versatility behind the microphone, and brings a new kind of sound for all to enjoy. “River of Doubt” flows deep, and with some beautiful instrumentation that reinvigorates with each note. “So Far So Fast” adds some rock to the mix, giving us a great traveling song that ends too soon. The album provides an excellent showcase for Halstead’s guitar skills and diverse vocals, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With a wide array of instrumental support from Danny Barnes (banjo), Joel Litwin (drums), and Colby Sander (Dobro), Jenee has crafted a complex musical recipe, and the result is an entirely new flavor that tastes different with each song. Hungry yet? Give Raised By Wolves a listen and you will be. (Max Bowen)
Another Review in the Boson Globe. This time on Boston.com by Jonathan Donaldson:
When Jenee Halstead moved to Boston in 2006 to try her hand as a singer-songwriter, she was surprised to encounter a scene that was in someways a little foreign to her off-the-grid ways. Caught in that familiar middle-ground between pop and folk (we can both thank and blame Bob Dylan for that chasm), she leaned more towards the rootsy, folk story-teller side in her first five years in the city. However, a new album, Raised By Wolves finds the Pacific Northwest native taking a sharp right turn to the wild pop sounds of her alter-ego.
The story of Halstead's third-album begins last year when she had an 11-day recording session booked with Evan Brubaker; a Tacoma-based producer that the songwriter trusts for not only his production skill, but also his knack in artist development and working with female singer-songwriters. However, as Halstead and Brubaker started to work together, the singer decided to scrap almost every song she had prepared for the recording sessions, except for two. It was time to start over.
"It was like the pressure of a thousand pounds," says Halstead from a Cambridge coffee shop as she recalls what it was like to know that she had just a limited amount of time in Tacoma to write and record new songs. A sensitive and emotionally intelligent writer by nature, Halstead's new direction would be based on not turning the lens on others as she had in the past--but on herself, and her own complex landscape of emotions, past relationships and past traumas.
"My inner world was the elephant in the room," says Halstead. "Evan told me to go away and come back and see what I had. I maybe came up with 20 or 30 songs." Because she had already worked with Brubaker on her first album (2008's River Grace), Halstead and the producer worked from an established trust to open up the singer's world. The two would co-write as much as possible to make sure that the album was done as quickly as it needed to be to avoid any overly-critical self-editing. "We were literally across from each other on our laptops on Google Docs," says Halstead, on what it's like to co-write on the fly in 2012. "And he would be like 'what about this change, or this different word??'"
"Building You An Alter" is one of my favorites here (and also available on Halstead's Bandcamp site below--click to the 3rd track). In it, Halstead leads the listener like a snake-charmer down a place very similar to the way Wanda Jackson's stomps through "Funnel of Love." Her raw sensuality is mixed with fun sound-affects...like bouzouki-esque modalities being plucked against clacketty hand percussion, and a bridge that quickly ripens with synth-strings like the swell of a sudden storm.
New ideas in instrumentation are one of Halstead's big keys here, as the singer relates that many of the songs on Raised By Wolves were written on the ukelele; an instrument whose unique voicings lent itself both to new ideas and to the singer singing in a higher range than she had since college. Halstead and the musical friends she assembled for the album's recordings sessions also used a lot of unconventional touches, such as amplified guitars, electronic drums, and traditional folk instruments played out of context (ukelele, banjo, dobro) to create a fresh backdrop for Halstead's liberated attitude.
On the title-track, Halstead relates the trauma of being abused as a child to the idea of being raised by wolves. Here she shows the more tender side of her voice as she intones "nothing can hurt me now" with a bell-like clarity that cuts through the ambigous atmosphere of the song's glassy arrangement. "I wanted to speak to the deeper, more inarticulate aspect of the self--the Jungian side--to explore what happens when we are in survival mode and the whole emotional world that comes with that," says Halstead of the songs dark yet hopeful nature. "I realized one day that no one could ever hurt me like that again."
And how does Halstead feel now looking back on the whole Tacoma adventure?--the scrapping of the original songs to make way for the new ones that she wrote and recorded in a matter of weeks to create Raised By Wolves? Did she scrap the write songs? Did she feel too rished writing the new ones? Would she change anything? According to Halstead, any imperfections are perfectly fine with her.
"I feel like everything was tied in a little bow. I just brought every aspect of myself to this, my singing, my heart, my soul, etc. I felt like something was on the line."
The Lizard Lounge
Friday 5/25 - CD release party for "Raised By Wolves" the new CD from
with special guests
$10 advance / $10 at the door
8:30 doors / 9:00 show
With abandon, Raised By Wolves slams an old beat box into surf guitars, banjo, and ukulele; mixing a chorus of tenor guitars, handclaps, and synth bass. Drawing on influences like PJ Harvey and Kate Bush, multi-instrumentalist/producer Brubaker (Rachel Harrington & The Knockouts, Edie Carey) empties the musical space, giving all the attention to Halstead's
extraordinary voice. The twisted banjo of Danny Barnes, sly drumming of Joel Litwin, and nearly unrecognizable Dobro of Colby Sander help Raised By Wolves create a re-invigorated Dark Pop/ Americana that surrounds Halstead's vocals with a variety of surprises
"The 9 Songwriter Series" at
IOTA Club and Cafe on March 20th, 2012
Founded in 2008 by singer/songwriter Justin Trawick, "The 9 Songwriter Series" is a touring live music event based in Washington, DC. The show was created with the idea of nine artists getting together and combining their talents in order to play in nicer clubs and to larger amounts of people. Each installment features nine solo singer/songwriters performing in rotation and often sitting in with each other, providing audiences with a rich, intimate, varied listening experience. Where else can you hear almost 30 songs from nine different artists for only $10? To date, over 60 different artists have participated in "The 9", at events in DC, Arlington, Bethesda, Baltimore, Annapolis, New York City, Richmond, Charlottesville, Charlotte, and Philadelphia.
Ben Und Jasmin
Only $10 at the door! Music starts at 8pm!
IOTA is located at:
2832 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22201
I am thrilled to announce I have been invited to play TEDxSomerville on Sunday March 4th at The Center for the Arts at the Armory!
Here are the details:
10:00 am - 6:00 pm191 Highland Avenue
Somerville Massachusetts 02143
US 617. 718.2191
I am thrilled to be sharing the stage with two of my favorite acts at one of Boston's best venues! I will be joining Barnaby Bright and Suzie Brown for a wonderful evening of music!
Saturday, February 18th
Cafe 939 at Berklee- all ages
Doors: 7:30 Show: 8:00
Congratulations to ME and YOU! Together we raised $10,000 for "Raised by Wolves!" I am so happy and so excited to be making the music I want to make with absolute freedom and support from my fans and friends! It is a wonderful feeling of support!
I will be doing the pre sale until the album goes into mastering, which will theMonday March, 5th!
We did go a bit over budget! We are still looking to cover the duplication costs.
Here is the link if you are still interested in contributing:http://kneeling.co.uk/jenee.asp
The Dig Boston recommends you come to Club Passim tonight for the co-bill with Dave Dersham! Here is what those sweeties had to say:
Happy Holidays to You and Yours! I hope you have a wonderful New Year ahead of you!
I will be singing at the Boston Music Awards from 8 - 8:30 in the Esplanade room - part of a songwriters in the round with Rose Polenzani and Jess Tardy. It is at the Liberty Hotel and it is $20 to get in. It is truly a wonderful event! You can get tickets here:
Folk artist Jenee Halstead performed her music at the Upper Moreland home of John Burkhauser, who, for the second year, hosted a public house concert.
The house concert, which took place Oct. 1, also featured the rock cover band Second Chance, in which Burkhauser plays lead guitar.
According to Halstead, such home concerts are increasingly becoming a popular way for artists to supplement income, in between concerts and more traditional venues.
While most house concerts, including the one that took place at the Burkhauser residence, are free, guests made contributions for Halstead's performance. She also was able to sell her albumn, "The River Grace," and EP "Hollow Bones".
The Burkhauser Family invited friends, family, neighbors and the general public to the event, which also featured a free potluck dinner. Burkhauser said that house concerts also help promote a sense of community.
For the full story, please click on the link above.
For more infromation on Jenee Halstead, visit www.jeneehalstead.com.
For more information on the Second Chance band, e-mail John Burkhauser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A nice exposé on my career and albums in the L.A. Examiner:
Labor Day Weekend is going to be fantastic at Club Passim! If you are in the Cambridge/Boston area I highly recommend coming down for four days of amazing music. The lineup is incredible! It is $10 for a day pass or $30 for a weekend. All proceeds go right back to Passim to help raise money for all the amazing shows they put on throughout the year.
I am playing in the round on Sunday, September 4th with my buddy Robby Hecht at 9pm!
You can view the schedule here: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=265810663431699
Make a Jenee Halstead Station! Have fun, mix it up! E-mail me at email@example.com and let me know what artists I am alongside...there have been some great lists so far!
TWO OF AMERICA'S MOST BEAUTIFUL VOICES COME TOGETHER FOR ONE NIGHT OF MARVELOUS MUSIC!
Rebecca is returning to her Northern Virginia home for the first time since her national television appearances on NBC's 'The Voice'!
Jenee will perform brand new songs written for her forthcoming album, along with some of her older classics!
Advance tickets are available for ten dollars: http://jamminjava.com/home/events/rebecca-loebe-jenne-halstead
$10 in advance / $13 at the door
All Ages Show
Tickets available at JamminJava.com
This is the updated tour schedule for Holland! Some new shows added!
Muziekcentrum Frits Philips
Stania State (TBC)
Bergen op Zoom
Music Club Oss
zaterdag 23-apr Utrecht Blue Highways Festival
I hope you can make it out tonight to Club Passim or this Sunday at Toad. Tonight will be an intimate set opening for Alexa Woodward's CD Release starting at 8pm. "Pickles" Adam Moss will be joining me on fiddle, and Olinde Mandell will sing harmony vocals. Also, please come out this Sunday for a free show at Toad with the band from 9-11pm. We will rock the house once more!
Tickets for tonights event are available here: http://www.clubpassim.org/
Or you can purchase tickets at the door: $10 members/$12 non-members.
Hey Friends and Fans!
I have already raised $2,400 towards the new album!! We have pushed the recording date back to March 1st (tentatively) but I must raise $600 by Feb 1st to make it to that date! Please spread the word!
Here are the donations/pre-sale options:
$50: 2 advanced signed copies of the new cd + 3 "sneak preview" demo downloads! (Shipping Included)
$100: Your name in the CD liner notes + a live, limited addition DVD from the 2010 Netherlands tour filmed by Gretjen Hargesheimer + the above goodies! (Shipping Included).
$500: A concert at your house (some travel restrictions may apply, please e-mail me) + the above goodies and "Angel Donation" category in CD liner notes!
$3,000 - $5,000: Executive Producer! All of the above goodies, plus a framed and signed poster, and the title of Executive Producer. This is very top tier, only three slots available.
Of course, you can donate...
We are very excited to announce two great shows this week! Two band sets and two nights back to back!
Thursday, January 27th at the Lizard Lounge with The Sweetback Sisters and Kristin Andreassen!
Doors open at 8:30pm. Kristin goes on at 9pm, Sweetback Sisters at 10pm and we close the night at 11:15!
Tickets are $10 at the door or $10 adv.
Friday, January 28th at The Center for Arts at the Armory with Olinde Mandell
Starts proptly at 8:00pm with a half an hour set from Olinde Mandell!
Tickets are $7 at the door. No advance sales.
"Jenee Halstead - This album’s opening track, Before I Go, is slightly misleading, in that it suggests this will be a pleasant enough album of country music that skips prettily along the surface of things. The next track, Deep Dark Sea, reveals the true identity of an album that, in the words of the title track, chooses to “embrace the undertow”. The River Grace focuses on uncertainty and despair, murder and suicide. Yet, while the Boston-based Halstead is a songwriter unafraid to deal with life’s great tragedies and awkward compromises, her real strength, on this debut album, lies in her voice. Halstead’s singing packs the emotional punch of Emmylou Harris and will keep you hooked: even in those stretches where you’re not sure what she’s singing about, it’s clear that it matters." ME
Fish Records a UK based distributor of folk, acoustic, and singer/songwriter music has named my cd The River Grace (with Hollow Bones EP) as a top ten album for 2010! I am honored and so excited to be among the artists that were chosen for this list!
Thank you Fish Records!!
Miss out on button-cute roots-crooner Jenee Halstead’s Americana residency over at Precinct back in August? Oh man, it was great. She had this bitchin’ Emmylou Harris vibe, complete with twanging acoustic and these vaporous vocals … she sounded like ripples in air, dude. Ripples in the air. Well, August has come and gone (unfortunately forgetting to take cargo shorts along with it), but Halstead will be popping back into the ville’s favorite patio to kick off a night of snakeskin and whiskey-jug mood music. Now, it may not be exactly the same thing as her residency … but you can always just pretend she’s gonna come back next week. [70 Union Sq., Somerville. 617.623.9211. 7:30pm/21+/$10. precinctbar.com]
Come celebrate the life of Gram Parson's this weekend at Precinct Bar in Union Square, Somerville! I will be singing Emmylou Harris songs on Friday, Nov. 5th to warm up the bands. Music starts at 7:30pm! For more details please check the link: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=123441974332997
A wonderful review from Fish Records our UK distributor!
Continental Record Services released The River Grace and Hollow Bones as one Cd on October 6th in the UK and Holland! For all you European fans you will be able to find both albums though iTunes Europe and UK as well as some retail stores. Visit the CRS website to find out more: http://www.continental.nl/
Get your tickets for a great night of music with soul/rock/blues duo Avi and Celia's rockin' band Hey Mama! It is going to be an excellent night with The Boston Boys and The Briar Rose completing the bill. Don't miss it: