Jenny O. Breaks Down Her Soothing New Album “New Truth” Track by Track
The record is officially out tomorrow via Mama Bird Recording Co.
“I’m in mono now forever / It was there and now it’s gone” Jenny O. sings on the opening track to, and debut single from, New Truth, her first LP since losing hearing in her right ear. This shrugging happenstance tends to populate much of the rest of the album, which often touches on the recent memory of a soured relationship, as well as the performative and totally meaningless conversations we suffer through on a daily basis.
In spite of this state of resignation, though, New Truth has a much-needed calming tone to it, with O. delivering smooth layered vocals over chilled-out guitar solos. Even if the playful details were omitted from the final recordings—such as the “Muppet background harmonies” on “God Knows Why” detailed below—the songs all still feel breezy, especially with the help of the newly published “Old Habits” video.
Jenny’s sharing a full stream of the LP a day before its release, detailing each song in the track-by-track below. You can stream the album here, and pre-order that sucker before it drops right here.
1. “God Knows Why”
Well, I lost most of the hearing in my right ear so I wrote this after that happened. Each verse is about a different inexplicable event. Originally it had really funny Muppet background harmonies, but they were fighting with the guitar so in the end I took them out. They still make me laugh in their absence and I can’t wait to do them live sometime.
2. “I Don’t Want to Live Alone Anymore”
I had been living alone for a few years when I wrote this. I’m amused by the effects of solitude and obsessed with the arrangement of my few possessions.
3. “Color Love”
I want this song to feel like getting in a small boat with a partner and rowing all night through a dimly lit, rainforest-river kind of Disney ride, with creatures and plants and thousands of stars. I imagine we both have to work in the morning, but we’ve managed to have this night for ourselves. It’s about growing-old-together love, and how lucky that is, and how important it is to always be maintaining it and not take it for granted.
4. “Old Habits”
This is the crux of it all, the journey. Trying to improve or connect, missing, trying again with insight, missing differently, and on and on. We can transform, and decades later we can still mess up. The key is to enjoy and be in awe of the unending process. Also, what’s funny to me is while I was first writing it, it felt like a distraction. I was trying to finish all the songs for New Truth and I kept hearing this one and playing it, just chords and melody, searching for lyrics, but felt like I should be working on another one that was closer to being finished. It was weeks before I realized it was important for the record and, in fact, a favorite. How stupid it is to feel guilty when working on one song over another.
5. “What About That Day”
This is about looking back at a romantic day after a relationship has soured. It’s over—the actual day-to-day has been wrought with conflict. The only reason it went on so long was because of the magic of that one day. We’ve repeated its memory over and over again.
6. “Not My Guy”
I gave this one a long guitar solo in elegy to the twentieth century (RIP). I can’t wait to play it live with my band.
7. “Even If I Tried”
I wrote this chorus for my last album, Peace & Information, but I couldn’t figure out the verse lyrics until I was writing New Truth. I was excited about achieving my second song ever to start with the chorus. This was, for me, an accomplishment, as I love a pop song that starts with the chorus, but it just never comes together that way. I was crying over a breakup while I recorded the guitar solo, but had to finish the final session—that’s funny to me now.
8. “Small Talk”
I’m awful at small talk. If I don’t simply excuse myself and walk away because I’m overcome with nerves and have a flight response, I try to find something I really do want to discuss, which takes a second, so sometimes I’ll say nothing. I don’t want to just fill space. I find many typical entry questions problematic, so I’ll try to keep some good questions at hand. Everybody is suffering, and I heard that a truly uniting question could be, “In which ways do you suffer?”
I actually tried it a few times with near-strangers. I tried mentioning suffering a couple times on stage, it didn’t work, so I stopped doing it. I still don’t know what to say to an audience. It’s just so absurd to say to a group of people at a concert, “How is everybody doing?” And then everyone goes “Wooo!” Because it’s like, man, someone in here just lost somebody. Someone in here is fighting cancer. Definitely. But we all go “Wooo!” and that’s the same as the cashier asking how you are and you say, “Good how are you?” because what are you going to tell them, “I’m depressed, actually”? I’ve tried that too. It’s all completely fascinating to me. So that’s what this song is about. I want to deepen the conversation. Let’s get into it. I mean, with friends and family. I actually just prefer not to talk to strangers.
9. “Psychedelic Love”
I didn’t really want to put this one on the record, but other people liked it. I was seeking a major love, and at this point I was able to be very specific about what I wanted in a partner. Everybody has different dynamics and desires, but this was a personal spell for me and it worked.
10. “A Different Kind of Life”
Sometimes we spend too long in a situation trying to figure it out—exactly why it doesn’t work, trying to solve some riddle or move mountains, and I am here to say stop doing so much math. Some things line up and others don’t. Things can just flow, and you can expend energy more efficiently. An easier, more peaceful life is around the corner.
11. “Hard to Say”
This is written about finding oneself around someone new while still hurting over something else that just ended. Trying to describe that—not quite heartbroken, I wouldn’t really call it “love” because it never really got there, it was something else. And now it’s over, and I’m hurt, but there’s this new person (that’s who I’m singing to). And I’m struggling to be present but I don’t want them to leave. It’s sort of an emotional purgatory. Moving on can heal us, but if we haven’t sorted out or learned from what just happened, we might destroy the new thing.
12. “Seek Peace”
This is a meditation for trying to do right in the world while trying to survive. Asking some questions I have to keep asking. I was pretty blissed out after recording all the vocal parts.