Indie artist Jenn Wasner has just released her EP, Like So Much Desire, under her solo project Flock of Dimes. The EP is her debut piece after being newly signed with Sub Pop this June. Wasner performed a live stream show this Tuesday highlighting some older songs as well as new tunes that have yet to be played to an audience until now. Accompanied by her incredible piano playing, the 30-minute set was moving and gave a stunning new sound to her originals.
Perched upon a bench in front of a sleek and glimmering piano, guided by the sweeping grace of her fingers on the keys, Wasner’s face was of a calm, serene demeanor. She began with “Spring in Winter” and self-titled track “Like So Much Desire” from her new EP. While people have been in quarantine for the majority of 2020, most are experiencing a new type of isolation and her songs expressed the contemplative nature that has crept up on all. With much time allotted to call on the past, as well as the events of recent months, the songs chosen for this live stream evoked reflective feelings that are within many.
“A funny thing about songs is that they sometimes predict the future. So with that I hereby present to you the saddest love song ever written,” Wasner said as she introduced her new song “The Hard Way,” which had yet to be performed live and only heard by few. As soon as she prepared to play once more, her slight chuckle and humble grin melted to repose. She seemed to go somewhere distant in her head as she coaxed the marvelous melody out of the keys by memory. The song is reflective of a relationship that haunts someone even after it’s over, lyrics recalling: “Something that you said/ I could not forget/ Set it into motion.”
An older song, written in 2015, “Given/Electric Life” took on a new form and meaning as the lyrics resonate more with Wasner now than at the time it was written. She joked that “this is either a really good sign about the song, or a really bad sign about my personal choices in life.” After realizing there was no one in the room to laugh at her dark joke she added, “We’re gonna overdub the laugh track after that. It’s gonna be sick.” The fullness of the piano mirrored the ebb and flow of her pitches perfectly. As if her angelic voice and enthralling piano skills weren’t enough to make people admire her, Wasner’s awkward charm and self-deprecating humor take the cake. After the song was finished, lacking the typical live crowd noise and cheers, she said: “It’s cool to do a performance and finally get the response I alway feel like I deserve, which is just dead silence.”
She continued to crack herself up as she moved on to her popular song “Everything is Happening Today,” which she says “is about the circularity of time and of course the fact that I hate myself!” It was a great sight to see her light up and take amusement in her own jokes. Seemingly about the mini existential crises people have when they think about the patterns and repetitions of life, the usual version of this song has a built up sense of anticipation and anxiety that breaks free with the mix of several instrumentals. In this setting, just Wasner and her piano, the song takes on a new tone. A sense of melancholy reflection and gorgeous progression of sound deliver this message in a new light. This jumping notes of the piano and her powerful vocals were evocative of the quintessential movie scene when the main character has a life-altering moment and throws caution to the wind.
“Semaphore” is about “the great, sometimes insurmountable distances that can exist between two people, or many people. Just between people,” Wasner put simply. In the literal sense, flag semaphore is a way of communicating signals over long distances; the positions of the flags convey a message that can be interpreted by another person far away. “Too far gone for the semaphore/ too far gone for the semaphore” she repeats over and over to drive home her yearning for the ability to communicate with someone. This song hits home as many people are experiencing disconnection with people they wish they could be physically closer to.
Her last song, “Head of Roses,” is a glimpse of what will be on the record she’s in the process of making right now. A song that represents elements of grief, loss, and love; the pauses between lyrics and small moments of fading piano chords created a slow-burning momentum that left the audience feeling peaceful and nostalgic before she ended her stream.
Spring in Winter
Like So Much Desire
The Hard Way (new song)
Everything is Happening Today
Head of Roses (new song)