Cassandra Jenkins “An Overview on Phenomenal Nature”

Ba Da Bing! 2021

Spellbinding Art-Americana from NYC.

New York native Cassandra Jenkins returns with her second full-length studio album; an intimate, varied, and complex piece of work. Due to go on tour with Purple Mountains before David Berman’s suicide, much of this album explores the trauma of loss. Jenkins creates a world of fluctuating realities, weaving stories about friends and strangers into chamber pop soundscapes, complete with saxophone noodling, fuzzy guitars, and spoken word.

The centrepiece track of the album “Hard Drive“, from which the album takes its name, starts out with a voice memo Jenkins recorded at the Met Breuer – a security guard’s musings on a sculpture exhibition, an ‘overview on phenomenal nature.’ This gives way to Jenkins’ spoken word reflections, and a steadily building soundscape, evoking first sleazy New York streets, then building to something far more transcendent.

If this sounds a little too arty or pretentious for your taste, don’t be put off. The whole thing is tied together beautifully by Jenkins’ voice – a constant touchstone in the sonic miasma. Multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman (Bonny Light Horseman) engineered the record, and his production also adds to the album’s incredible listenability. Poppy hooks constantly emerge from the tracks, beautiful guitars and unexpected touches – like a breathy flute or birdsong – make it a constantly engaging listen. A unique mesh of foot-tapping Americana-infused pop and artsy soundscapes. Compelling stories, beautiful production, it takes its time but is never boring. A wonderful record.

8/10
8/10

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