With her forthcoming, self-titled LP, Jen Cloher plays it fearlessly close to the bone, with raw, unflinching dissections of her life, love, and home of Australia.
By now you would have heard ‘Forgot Myself’, a deceptively upbeat track about the sacrifices and difficulties of maintaining a long-distance relationship with a high profile partner. Now Cloher turns that unfiltered lens onto her complicated relationship with Australia in ‘Regional Echo’, a title inspired by legendary Australian poet Les Murray.
One of the most beautiful and evocative songs on the album, ‘Regional Echo’ paints an endless landscape of breathtaking but stultifying beauty – miles and miles of suburban sprawl in the summertime (“prawns in wheelie bins marinate/ a cocktail of stink”) which seduces with promises of a mortgaged Australian dream, while simultaneously snuffing out any wishes out of the ordinary, with Cloher singing about “tombs of dreams past/ wealth gone to waste”. In Cloher’s words:
“I grew up in Adelaide, a town in South Australia with a population of one million. In summer you could feel the heat blowing in from the desert. There was a remote feeling of not quite being a country town but not being large enough to be taken seriously as a busy metropolis either. Life had a strange amnesia. No-one taught you to dream big”.
The video clip for ‘Regional Echo’ was premiered on Stereogum last night. Cloher explains: “Our bass player Bones Sloane was raised in Goulburn, a regional centre nestled between Canberra and Sydney along the Hume Highway. Famous for it’s pastoral industry, most people will know it for the Big Merino, the world’s largest concrete sheep. I asked Bones if we could go home to visit his family and film him. I’ve used small town life as a larger metaphor for small time thinking – there’s something in our national psyche that keeps us small.”