Jane Blanchard is well known in the New Brunswick indie scene, not only for founding and curating the incredible Flourish Festival, but also for her brooding, sinister songwriting. Her third EP, Still, Again, drops in July via Gerry Loves Records.
Still, Again follows in the same vein as Blanchard’s earlier Enemy and Narcissus EPs; the arrangements of (mostly) vocals, guitar and drums are dramatic and intimate without pandering to melodrama or cliché. Blanchard’s voice is draped in a velvety fuzz for much of the EP which lends a nostalgic, vintage ambience; like you’re listening to a long lost vinyl, a forgotten gem found in the back of a dusty record store. It makes the brief runtime feel like a dream.
Missing Me opens the EP with a melodic cacophony of tumbling percussion and bending guitar riffs shortly before giving way to Blanchard’s lamenting and lilting vocals. There’s a distinct feeling of early 90s alt-rock – there are more than a few moments on the Still, Again that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Pixies and The Bends-era Radiohead release.
The dark proto-grunge of Missing Me and Settle is counterpoised by the rhythmic guitar picking of Still, Again and the effortless melodies of Care – which also hosts some playful dabbling in theremin-like synths. Blanchard’s songwriting is at its most effective and affecting when everything is stripped back to simply voice and guitar. Take Me Home is a beautiful folky ballad of unplugged electric guitar and unencumbered vocals; like sitting around the campfire of a modern day troubadour. It’s a sublime closing track and packs the biggest emotional punch.
The intensity of Blanchard’s music, while captured on the record, truly comes across in her live shows where her voice is unburdened by processing and she can let loose with her intricate and emotive guitar playing. The tracks on Still, Again will surely take on new life and meaning in a live setting, whenever that may be feasible again.
There’s a lot of guitar music being made in Scotland right now and Jane Blanchard is one of the very few worth listening to. Her songwriting is more mature and considered than her contemporaries and her ear for pared back, unpretentious production is timeless.
Still, Again will be available for download and on limited edition 12” vinyl via Gerry Loves Records from the 3rd of July. The vinyl version also includes Jane’s criminally overlooked Enemy EP as well as a download of the Narcissus EP.