May 3, 2008
Blue Frog Coffeehouse
64 Main Street
Artist's Website: JennieStearns.Com
Jennie Stearns is a classic American songwriter. By turns heartbreaking and hopeful, her songs are evocative, poignant and haunting. Quintessentially human. Her strong yet intimate vocal style and the vivid imagery portrayed by her lyrics gently draw the listener into her world. Despite the often sombre mood, you'll find yourself strangely at one with her perspective, akin to the intimate atmosphere of a late-night red-wine-confessional with a lifelong, much-loved friend.
Though her earlier albums (1998's "Angel with a Broken Wing" and 2000's "Mourning Dove Songs") displayed the influences of the country / old-time music scene in her adopted hometown of Ithaca, it is 2002's "Sing Desire", that ventured into new territory, and it is this album that has garnered acclaim from press and radio as far afield as the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and Japan.
"I've been drawn to dark and beautiful ballads ever since I was a kid. It's the sadness that I sense I'm somehow connected to. There's something soothing about the ballads, too, a desire to make everything ok", she says. And while "Sing Desire" continues this obsession, it's tremendously adventurous in terms of its arrangements and production. Stearns credits much of this to her co-producer, Chad Crumm, who she teamed up with for his huge library of archived sound as well as his formidable musicianship and production skills. Crumm set glinting accents of sampled sound and unexpected instruments against Stearns' lonesome vocals. Touches of spinet, muted cornet, moments of feedback, and even a lost fragment of an old Japanese television soundtrack add a sonic richness to her gentle singing without ever overshadowing it. The album also features Mary Lorson, the song Bittersweet was produced by Billy Cote (madder Rose), Johnny Dowd on guitar, and Willie Watson (from band-of-the-moment Old Crow Medicine Show) singing two duets with Jennie.
Stearns most recent (self) release 'Birds Fall" is beginning to cause a stir internationally. Stearns went to Austin Texas to record with producer Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier, Slaid Cleaves). Birds Fall features contributions from drummer Rick Richards (Slaid Cleaves), and Grammy winner Jim Lauderdale singing on two tracks.
Jennie hails from the small town of ithaca New York. She was a founding member of the roots band Donna the Buffalo and the indie band Tin Roof . She toured for years as a duo with her ex husband Rich Stearns and Mary Lorson's Saint Low. These days She plays most often with keyboardist Mike Stark (best known for his work with Johnny Dowd), Mary Lorson on vocals, and Tyler Ramsey guitar, keyboard and vocals (Asheville N.C.)
When not touring, writing, or in her home studio, she can be found at Volume Records in Ithaca, an Indie record store she now co-owns.