Last Friday saw the release of hotly anticipated new music from Nashville based Lauren Jenkins in the form of her EP”Miles On Me, Part 1″ which sees her renewing her working relationship with longtime collaborators Gabe and Gideon Klein as well as members of her touring band.
Now an independent artist, Lauren seems to be revelling in the freedom this gives her and a big part of that is her being in full control of her music and working without constraints to ensure that every single track finishes up exactly as she wants, the fantastic and varied arrangements on this release are just one indication of her attention to detail. Of course, the downsides include Lauren now having to finance everything herself, from studio time to promotion, videos and everything in between, and to that end her live streams during the pandemic have played an integral part with fans donating towards her new music via the now familiar “virtual tip jar”. She joked on her most recent stream that without their financial help her rescue dog, Cooper, would have had to find a job and his resume is a bit lacking apart from looking cute and hugging people! But the big hearted artist has also given a slice of these donations to a variety of charities, recognising that there are those a lot less fortunate than herself.
This EP is the first of three, all of which will be released digitally before being complied into a full-length album in the fullness of time (he follow up to her 2018 label debut ” No Saint”) which will be available on vinyl and as a physical CD. In addition there will be a few extra tracks included on the eventual “Miles On Me” album, songs which won’t be familiar to her fans unlike the EP tracks which they will know from the aforementioned live streams. An intriguing twist is that each EP has been assigned a different colour… this first one is described by Lauren as Desert Orange …. and at some point during the release process she will explain the meaning behind all of this! She’s also dropped strong hints that this is not the only album she’s working on, great to hear that there’s a lot to look forwards to from the creative Texan native!
The four tracks on “Miles On Me, Part 1” not only showcase Lauren’s strong lyrical abilities (drawing on her own experiences a lot of the time for inspiration, there’s a lot of rawness and honesty ) but also the variety of artists and genres influencing her music. Country, Americana, rock and blues all filter through, and vocally she is versatile enough to do each justice with her tone and range impressive throughout. And she has come up with some brilliant accompanying lyric videos too, apparently working into the early hours of release day to get them completed.
The EP kicks of with the pleading “Like You Found Me”which many of you may know was released as a single earlier this year. It’s a rock-infused uptempo track delivered with plenty of attitude, attack and energy and with a fantastic driving drum beat. Sitting in a bar, a newly single Lauren asserts herself as an independent woman (mirroring her current artist status of course) …”I don’t need a man who thinks he’s James damn Dean“…but she’s willing to take a chance on either a one night stand or a longer relationship as long as her heart doesn’t get broken.
Next up, things slow down for the steamy, sultry “She’s A Star”, particularly well suited to Lauren’s smoky voice. This bluesy song, introduced by a great bass riff and with insane electric guitar ripping through it, was apparently partly inspired by the strange obsession with celebrities that’s rife these days and partly by something specific which Lauren went through. It carries a warning message to make the distinction between reality and fantasy when it comes to relationships, and to realise the importance of the former. As Lauren sings, “She’s like a walking fantasy …but can she touch you like i do, does she have your heart?” and further on “You’re caught up in a dream but you’ve got the real thing“. Probably my favourite of the four tracks as it shows a different side to Lauren and also I find it so original in every respect. I particularly like its great lyric video, too , which is simple yet incredibly effective and atmospheric.
The title track comes next, and for “Miles On Me” Lauren enlisted the help of one of her favourite voices, artists and songwriters, fellow Texan David Ramirez, on backing vocals. She says getting him to sing on it was was one of the highlights of her musical career and she was blown away when he agreed to feature on the song… the first time she’s ever featured anyone. Their voices are so different yet blend so well, adding an extra depth and dimension which works perfectly. It’s a stunner of a break up song, full of reflection which begins with her questioning why she of let someone into her life in the first place, letting them break down the walls that were keeping her safe as she puts it so beautifully in the opening lines. She goes on to asks “how do you fix a broken heart that feels like a beat up car?” with clever car/road/travel analogies continue throughout the track. One of my favourite lines of the entire EP has to be “You got me high on the speed and you kept on going knowing we’d crash“. The mournful regret voiced at the start turns into mounting frustration, anger and vitriol as the track builds to an impressive crescendo, Lauren unleashing her vocals to the maximum, before everything comes right back down again at the very end. Another beautiful and artistically compiled video too.
Closing out the EP is possibly the most relatable track to a lot of people, “My Own Advice” , also the most introspective write. Haven’t we all been there, handing out tips to others while totally ignoring them when it comes to our own life? Why is advice such as “Put the cap back on the bottle, quit buying them cigarettes“, “Call your sister back, tell her that you love her let the past be the past” seemingly so very easy to hand out but so hard to follow yourself? Lauren also throws in a references the title track of her “No Saint” album ,”Give Up The Ghost”, in the chorus
Another very thought provoking track, sonically it’s the gentlest and dreamiest of the EP and perfectly placed as its closer. There’s some lovely steel and piano in the mix, and you can really sense Lauren beating herself up with her inability to “hear what you need to hear the most”.
As you may have guessed, I’m absolutely loving this EP and am so looking forward to hearing everything else that Lauren is busy working on… plus of course I can’t wait till she is able to return to the UK to play live for us again!