Jen Kearney reclaims her soul from across the ‘Atlantic’
Out March 4, the new EP from the songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer connects her life from Boston to London
‘Atlantic’ record release party goes down March 6 at The Burren in Somerville
Photo Credit: Caroline Alden Photography
“It’s a personal snapshot of the last few years looking deep within, but also observing what’s on the surface of society. Living in two countries with completely different rhythms of life over the last few years influenced me for sure. I pushed myself out of some comfort zones.” – Jen Kearney
BOSTON, MA [March 4, 2022] -- If life is a never-ending series of evolving dualities, then over the past few years, Jen Kearney has experienced a dramatic effect on both ends. The Boston singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer spent two years living in London just before the pandemic hit, writing new music and honing her craft across English stages while getting accustomed to a new rhythm of life. Upon returning home to New England, the pandemic suddenly hit, and like most of us, the artist was rendered limited by lockdowns and quarantines not only in her personal life, but as a born performer.
The pandemic, however, didn’t curb her creativity, as on March 4 Kearney is set to release a new EP titled Atlantic, a collection that bridges the space between her life in London and life in Boston. Across the EP’s four lived-in compositions, Kearney shows off a creative core that augments her eclectic amalgamation of sound combining elements of soul, R&B, funk, rock, and Latin music.
And true to a sign that we’re finally coming out of the past two years of unnaturally subdued living, Kearney takes the Atlantic EP and shows it off where it sounds best, on stage at The Burren in Somerville for the official release party on March 6.
“Like any album, the songs are observational of the times we’re living in,” says Kearney. “It’s a personal snapshot of the last few years looking deep within, but also observing what’s on the surface of society. I feel like I’ve taken some different turns musically and lyrically on ‘Atlantic.’ Living in two countries with completely different rhythms of life over the last few years influenced me for sure. I pushed myself out of some comfort zones.”
That shines through on Atlantic’s four bold and vibrant tracks, which were first conceived in London, and then recorded and finalized around Boston using a hybrid approach of home recording and studio production sessions at Charlestown’s A1 Productions and Chillhouse Studios, as well as Wonka Sound in Lowell. Both cities influenced the EP, furthering its oceanic theme.
Audiences received a taste of the EP last year, when Kearney released lead single “Writing on Water,” which was written after she watched the news and saw how doctors and caregivers were struggling to keep up with the pandemic, and how we need to look inward in order to heal. It's a soulful track where Kearney's warm songwriting acts as its core, and an updated version with live strings finds its home on Atlantic.
Elsewhere, “Spinning” finds Kearney reclaimed her soul through an unrequited love song, and tracks like “Magician” and “In The Neighborhood” show off a loose playfulness that belies their more serious lyrical nature, the former about how ageism and sexism intersect in both music and life, and the later about gentrification in cities that are becoming unrecognizable. Atlantic finds Kearney taking inspiration from a wealth of favorites across a musical spectrum.
“I think the evolution of a songwriter goes directly with the evolution of the person and every life circumstance, joy, lesson, interaction, heartbreak and loss gets absorbed,” admits Kearney. “I feel like I’ll never be finished learning or have anything in life or music really figured out, so my songwriting is always moving and hopefully growing in good ways.”
The band around Kearney keeps things moving as well, providing a diverse and comprehensive backbone that buoys the singer’s powerhouse vocals. As Kearney commands her Fender Rhodes, as well as holding court on her Wurlitzer, clavinet, and other keyboards and synths, she’s surrounded by a veritable arsenal of instruments – from brass to strings to everything in between – helmed by some of her closest collaborators.
“There have been so many great moments getting to work with everyone on the record,” Kearney says. “I am so lucky that I genuinely love all the people on this album. They all feel like a family that has my back and they just happen to be amazing musicians in their technical skills, but also far beyond in their soul, imagination, and creativity. I come from a stance that a good song should be able to stand strong when you play it solo or when you play it with a band, but there’s no doubt that the players on this all have such great taste and enhanced these songs in every way.”
Now they’re ready to be heard, from one side of the Atlantic to the other.
Art Credit: Nicole Anguish / Daykamp Creative
‘Writing on Water’
Written by Jen Kearney. Produced by Jen Kearney and Aaron Bellamy. Recorded at A1 Productions, Wonka Sound, and in my closet. Strings recorded at Chillhouse Studios. Mixed and Mastered by Will Holland at Chillhouse Studios. Special thanks to Bob Nash at Wonka Sound for the home studio build and home recording advice.
Jen Kearney: Vocals, Fender Rhodes; Peter MacLean: Drums; Domenic Volpe Davis: Bass; Steve Fell: Guitar; Aaron Bellamy: Guitar; Amy Bellamy: B3 organ; Yahuba Garcia: Percussion; Theresa Cleary: Violin, Viola; Sarah Nichols: Cello.
‘In The Neighborhood’
Written by Jen Kearney. Produced by Jen Kearney and Aaron Bellamy Recorded at A1 Productions, Wonka Sound, and in my closet. Mixed and Mastered by Will Holland at Chillhouse Studios.
Jen Kearney: Vocals, Clavinet; Peter MacLean: Drums; Domenic Volpe Davis: Bass; Steve Fell: Guitar; Aaron Bellamy: Guitar; Amy Bellamy: B3 organ; Yahuba Garcia: Percussion; James Calandrella: Saxophone; Alex Lee Clark: Trumpet; Brian Thomas: Trombone.
Written by Jen Kearney. Produced by Jen Kearney and Aaron Bellamy. Recorded at A1 Productions, Wonka Sound, and in my closet. Mixed and Mastered by Will Holland at Chillhouse Studios.
Jen Kearney: Vocals, Rhodes, Synths; Peter MacLean: Drums; Domenic Volpe Davis: Bass; Steve Fell: Guitar; Yahuba Garcia: Percussion; Theresa Cleary: Violin, Viola; Sarah Nichols: Cello.
Written by Jen Kearney. Produced by Jen Kearney. Recorded at Chillhouse Studios. Mixed and Mastered by Will Holland at Chillhouse Studios.
Jen Kearney: Vocals, Wurlitzer; Peter MacLean: Drums; Domenic Volpe Davis: Bass; Jason Yost: Guitar; Theresa Cleary: Violin, Viola; Sarah Nichols: Cello.
Additional Jen Kearney press photos:
Photo Credits: Caroline Alden Photography
Media praise for Jen Kearney:
“Kearney spent a few years in London honing her craft and touring Europe. She returned in time for the pandemic to shut down the live music business. She wrote this soul ballad/modern anthem after hearing about what our health care workers were living through. Smart, sad and beautiful, ‘Writing on Water’ serves as a great introduction/reintroduction to a musician with a towering voice and sharp song craft.” – Jed Gottlieb, Boston Herald
“What’s particularly striking is the story-like quality of Kearney’s lyrics and how she wraps them in just the right musical textures... Kearney’s powerful but nuanced vocal work captures your attention and holds your interest as she tells her story.” – Alan Chase, The Wire
“I've been dizzily transported back to when Stevie Wonder's ‘Living in the City’ and the O'Jays’ ‘Backstabbers’ ruled the airwaves, blending funky grooves with socio/political themes. And with a voice that rivals Stevie Wonder and Eddie Levert in power and soul, Jen Kearney delivers the goods with a passion and conviction that leaves no question she's one of the best female vocalists singing right now.”– Peter Lavender, The Lowell Sun
"When Jen Kearney and her band the Lost Onion are rumbling along at full throttle, they conjure up a deliciously infectious sound unlike almost anything other local pop/rock artists are doing. It’s muscular and sinuous and bluesy and rollicking and Latin-drenched and...well, think Susan Tedeschi backed by Stevie Wonder’s band ‘Wonderlove’, and you’ll have a vague point of reference..." – Dean Johnson, Boston Music Critic WBZ Radio