Feature: Jack Foley
JEN Gloeckner’s debut CD Miles Away has been described
by many critics as spellbinding.
It's designed to lure the listener into a world that’s
more twisted and mysterious than calm and relaxing, more Neverwhere
(Neil Gaiman) than Neverland.
Songs like Nothing Personal and Only 1 take
you to a place where dreams go wrong and good intentions
go awry, before pulling you back with tracks such as Remember
But the album is designed to reflect real life. It was not contrived
to meet pop culture or corporate standards - in fact, it was created
free from such influence in Jen’s own home studio, in Dubuque,
Iowa, with the help of recording engineer, Laird Scott.
Explains Jen: "My digital recorder is my diary, and I try
to write in it daily. I don't believe I could ever record a full
album in a real studio."
As a result, Miles Away transports you into Jen’s
world - a world of clouds and silver linings.
"The record is the result of a manifestation of everything
I have experienced in life up to that point," Jen recalls,
"and I felt now was the time to release all these different
Because Jen grew up in a small, Midwestern town in the US, citizens
of more musician-friendly cities may wonder where she finds the
inspiration to write such diverse and original material.
Yet in a recent interview, Jen spoke of the sources of her inspiration,
saying: "When I write, I am really not aware of my surroundings
at all, either inside the studio, or outside the house. I do not
find that my music really has any geographical boundaries at all."
She adds: "I really cannot put my finger on it, but when
I write, the visions I see and try to interpret are very similar
to what one may experience in their dream state.
"I have also had collaborations with musicians in my dreams,
which I have taken and finished writing in the conscious state.
"I often wonder if these other musicians are the various
forms of myself."
Jen recalls the haunting Only 1 as being a song created
from such inspiration:
"That was a song that came to me one night at about 2am.
It just seemed to pour out of me, and within two hours the song
was completely written and recorded."
Hard-pressed to classify Jen’s music into a certain genre,
reviewers are left searching for words to describe what they have
In a world dominated by many female
artists whose vocal lines seem to never stop, Jen prefers not
to have any one instrument, including her own voice, dominate.
She explains: "When I wrote the material for the record,
I wanted more than just singer/songwriter style songs.
"I understood that giving the music space to breathe on
its own was very crucial in developing the moods that I wanted
Jen’s talent was nurtured and encouraged by her family
from a very early age.
"My mom often reminds me of a time when I was about two-years-old,"
"We were in church, and there was a hymn playing. As soon
as the hymn stopped, I began screaming 'MORE MUSIC!', and mom
had to rush me out of the church so that I would not disrupt the
Jen’s first piano teacher took notice of her ability to
play by ear, and her lack of interest in reading music, and advised
Jen’s parents to not restrict her creativity and to let
her learn her own way.
"I guess I have always been somewhat unconventional,"
she recalls, "being left-handed, bi-racial and being raised
in a completely white environment. There are definitely those
times when I feel I am marching to a beat of a different drum."
During Jen’s teenage years, she began composing songs and,
like every teenager, singing along with her favourite musicians.
Though her appreciation and love for music never subsided, Jen
did not actively compose again for several years. But her desire
to create was rekindled after receiving her first left-handed
guitar for a birthday gift.
Things moved rapidly after that, her self-taught guitar style
began to take shape and led to a desire to produce her own demo
"When I was introduced to the guitar, that really opened
up a whole new world for me, and became my passion," she
Inspired by the sounds of artists like Tom Waites and Bob Dylan,
Jen spent hours in her spare bedroom-turned-recording studio creating
her first album.
"Most of the songs were written during the recording process,"
Jen recalls. "I had originally written five or six songs,
most of which were scrapped and replaced with new ones."
With the writing of each song, Jen’s songwriting style
and her vision for the album began to evolve.
With encouragement from music industry pros like Aaron Jacoves
(former A&R vice-president of Virgin, A&M, and Mercury
Records) and Derek Birkett (MD One Little Indian Records), it
was soon realized that Jen would have more than just a demo on
Jen Gloeckner’s debut album, Miles Away, was released
through One Little Indian Records on April 25, 2005. The single,
Otherside, is out on May 16.