With the release of "Miles Away" in it's infancy,
it's waves are building power, and have already
touched many shores all over the world. Catching
the ears of music A&R's, directors, reviewers, and
filmmakers across the globe, Jen's independently
released debut is poised to become one of the
next "New Big Things".
Growing up in small mid-western town, USA,
citizens of more trendy, musician friendly
metropolis's can't help but inquire where Jen finds
the inspiration to write such diverse and original
material. Hard pressed to label or place
"Miles Away" in any one genre, "Miles Away"
usually leaves the listener scurrying for words to
explain what just entered their ears.
When asked about the genre of "Miles Away",
Jen will usually give a few seconds of silence, a
chuckle, and then do her best to describe the
melodies that are running thru her head at the
moment. Call it alt/folk, call it alt/jazz, call it
whatever you like. Does great music really need to
be branded? If there is a section in the record store
labeled "Music From the Heart", that is Where you
will find Jen's "Miles Away".
mundanesounds.com (April 2004)
Wow. All I can say is wow. Jen Gloeckner's album is just...stunning. Dark and melancholy, Gloeckner's singing is simply stunning. Set to music that's a mixture of jazz, pop and folk, Gloeckner is a singer who will impress you instantly. Her songs are tempered with complex and beautiful instrumentation, most of which she arranged and performed herself. Miles Away is utterly brilliant. If you're a fan of singers as diverse as Heidi Berry and Tim Buckley, you'll find much to love with Jen Gloeckner.
editor, mundane sounds
www.vue365.com (March 26th 2004)
Jen Gloeckner's much anticipated debut CD, Miles Away, is finally being released and it is definitely worth the wait. Any who have been lucky enough to hear her sing, whether performing any of her original songs or sitting in with friends' bands, will not want to miss her CD release party, 8 p.m., April 5, at the Busted Lift, 180 Main Street, Dubuque.
Jen will perform with cellist, Kameron Cole, one of several local musicians who lend their talents to the recording, and local singer-songwriter, Maureen Kilgore, who will provide backing vocals. Copies of Miles Away will be available at the show.
...and you will want to get this CD.
With most tracks produced by Gloeckner, herself, Jen has created not just a selection of songs, but a series of environments through which the listener is guided. Her guitar, piano and voice arrangements are sometimes left alone, open and vulnerable while on other tracks her playing is augmented by subtle backing that enhances the particular mood of each piece, without serving to clutter the arrangement. Producer and engineer, Laird Scott did a fine job handling the majority of the recording and mixing duties. Together, they have created a lush, textural listening experience.
The "supporting cast" on Miles Away is a panorama of local talent. In addition to Cole on cello and bass, the CD includes Olen Franklin on drums, Jeff Weydert on bass, Shawn Healy on guitar, Jen Wiater on flute and Bill Golden and Jimmy Berg on congas. All great players, their understated performances illustrate each musician's understanding of the material - playing just enough for what each song needs. The result is a vivid and varied atmosphere that provides the perfect setting for Gloeckner's voice.
Jen has a smoky warmth to her voice - not rough, but rich. Inevitably, some would compare her voice to that of a famous female vocalist from a certain 70s and 80s supergroup (get the CD and figure it out yourself). While the double female harmony vocals of "Hazy Sky" and "Seven Maids" might recall said supergroup, the comparison does not serve to describe the expressive range of Gloeckner's voice on Miles Away.
In fact, describing her music is not an easy exercise. When asked, Jen is reluctant to describe or categorize her music. Understandably, so. Though she only lists influences in the most general terms, her acoustic folk/jazz reveals touches of rock, pop and world music. These are expressed in a most subtle manner, informing her unique writing and arrangements in a way so organic it seems clumsy to point to generic labels.
Gloeckner's writing conveys a very natural, open approach. The songs are honest, though at times surreal, sometimes even spiritual. She says, "when I write, the visions I see and try to interpret are very similar to what one may experience in their dream state."
However she does it, it works. Early reactions to the CD have been great. Jen's husband, John Gloeckner has been forwarding copies to A&R reps, reviewers and filmmakers around the world. Already, the album is on college radio charts and generating interest. Stu Olds, writing for musicworkz.co.uk, calls Miles Away "an indescribably beautiful independent debut album."
When Iowa blues legend, Patrick Hazell, heard an early release version of one of Jen's songs on KUNI, an area college radio station, he tracked her down and contacted her via email. The two eventually collaborated on some recordings and played some shows together.
Upon listening, I'm not surprised. Miles Away is a very polished and mature statement for Jen Gloeckner's recording debut.
Miles Away is available at jengloeckner.com or at her live performances. The CD release party is scheduled for 8 p.m., April 5, at the Busted Lift, 180 Main Street, Dubuque. For more information, call (563) 584-9712.
- Mike Ironside [www.VUE365.com]
www.smother.net (Editors Pick - March 2004)
Jen immediately impresses with her gorgeous voice and she has the maturity of an artist from a big city not St. Dubuque Iowa. On "Hazy Sky", the cello augments Jen's natural ability as a singer and guitarist (she also plays keyboards!). This singer/songwriter from Nowheresville, is sure to take the world slowly by storm by charming the heck out of A&R guys who are used to dealing with egotistical musicians from the big city with some lame shtick. At times her music not just engulfs you but completely envelopes your persona as this surreal journey through the green pathway between two huge cliffs where every echo reverts with such gusto and bravado that one is surprised that this is her debut. But never fear music lovers, she's here to stay and will no doubt be knocking down the walls that have been the barrier from great independent music reaching the masses.
www.melodic.net (March 2004)
I´m not such a big fan of female singer/songwriters like Tanita Tikaram,Susanne Vega and Norah Jones to name a few. They all have their moments but it´s gets just a little too soft and laid back for my taste.
So it was with minor expectations I put in this new independent CD from the talented singer/songwriter Jen Gloeckner. She´s like the opposite to Norah Jones on acoustic guitar instead of the piano that Norah handles extremely well.
Now there´s something about Jen´s debut album that takes a hold on me. She expresses the words in a way that I hear every word she sings with such an amazing feeling that it´s impossible to resist her acoustic based songs......and I say songs because I can´t label it under any style at all-simply music from the heart as she says herself.
Imagine a deep diver that is shutting out the world around him just to get into his inner self with 100% concentration before he´s going deep down and holding his breath, like meditation if you want.......exactly the same feeling comes in mind when hearing Jen´s spellbinding music.
If ever Luc Besson needs soundtrack music for a sequel to his adorable "The Big Blue", just call Jen Gloeckner and use some of these songs on "Miles Away".
It only takes the first 2 songs "Miles Away" and "Remember When" to be completely lost in her magic, then the album contines with 13 more low tempo songs that keeps you in the same wonderful mood.
Jen has the special gift of getting intimate with the listener,she´s right there sitting next to you with her guitar-so real, so real......this is not just another album to be used for background music at your home.
The major labels should sign her faster than Clark Kent changes into his Superman suit, the song "Clear The Sand" echoes out world wide hit and my fave "Seven Maids" sounds like a world peace maker. Who wants to fight after hearing that warm and embracing song?! -NO ONE!
Thank you Jen, now I just have to get you here to play in my living room :-)
musicworkz.co.uk (February 2004 - March Feature album)
When an indescribably beautiful independent debut album comes along, it is heartbreaking to imagine that, without a major distribution or label deal, it might never reach the music buying masses, or, in my case, equally heartbreaking, as I just cannot find the words to do 'Miles Away' justice.
And so, as with many albums that I've featured in this section, I play it continually, hoping for the same sprinklings of inspiration that were lavished on the artist. Whilst I struggle with my literacy inadequacies, Jen Gloeckner hums, purrs, strums and plucks in the background, weaving her magical, sometimes almost surreal tales, finding a place in my heart, and soliciting endless questions about her and her music from those who happen to hear the album as it keeps me company. (And unlike some people, when I say that the album hasn't left the CD player since it came my way, I mean it).
'Miles Away' is indeed one of those magical debut albums that most singer/songwriters aspire to, and few attain. Ah, you say - another singer/songwriter.... (is that a glazed look I see in your eye?). To be sure, with wannabes crawling out from under the stones on every wind swept plain, and the backstreets of many a coffee house strewn metropolis, one might very well have become a little blasé about the predominantly acoustica genre, and figure that Gloeckner has her work cut out trying to make her voice heard above the pleas for recognition from her contemporaries. One might also surmise that because she is hugely popular locally, amongst the Uni crowd and coffee house brigade, that she is perhaps a small town musician, with small town ambitions and talent - you'd be wrong on all counts.
With atmospheric song writing combined with meticulous compositions and arrangements, along with the far-reaching influences, Gloeckner has the potential to attract fans of almost any (AO) musical genre and with the natural talent that shines through on every song here, the material has an international appeal that will almost certainly lend creditability to any plans for an international release of 'Miles Away'.
Almost unusual these days, Gloeckner opens the album with her title track, and from the opening humming string plucks, the album takes the listener by the hand (even the tracklist is faultless) through roots & folk influenced mellow coffee house acoustic openers, dim downtown jazz clubs opening their doors to an all-comers evening, smoky blues joints, tumbleweed strewn abandoned nickel mines, with a last stop back at a coffee house for a final acoustic wind-down. The album does fall loosely into the roots category, although Gloeckner melds ample world, pop and jazz into the alt. folk melange, but sidesteps slavish imitation of those who have trod the way before.
Although the opening 'Miles Away' is a beautiful song, it can hardly be called a described as the pinnacle of the album when every other song on the album is as good as the next. Such is the quality of the material here, that one is left with the distinct impression that there are no fillers on the album - every song seems to be a part of the overall jigsaw. Surreal, dreamlike acoustic guitar-led ballads change effortlessly into funky jazz beats (with early Tracy Chapman overtones) on 'Spinning Head' (with full band), haunting cello (Kameron Cole) and harmonies on the dark 'Hazy Sky', then lend an intimate insight on 'Only 1'. 'Clear The Sand' takes on world roots music influences, although with an almost non-geographical reference, as with every new play of the song, the addition of congas and flute is sometimes reminiscent of South American traditional folk, other times invoking visions of African deserts. And with (unconfirmed) talk of 'Clear The Sand' being added to the soundtrack of a major forthcoming surfer movie, Jen's music might well reach more than the usual group of music lovers who head for the roots section of their local record shop (echoes of Jack Johnson appeal?)
Jen's slightly husky vocals are suited as much to her gentle acoustic guitar strum and pluck as to the fleshed out tracks, backed by an exceptional, full band, where her vocal chords duck and dive between the additional instrumentation. At some point through the album, hard core fans of this type of music will no doubt try to find some point of comparison, and probably come to the conclusion that in spite of familiar overtones, this is refreshingly original, but at the same time calls to mind (at various points in their careers) people as diverse as Nina Nastasia, Alice Schneider (Alice Texas), Tracy Chapman - at her very best, and perhaps even Hope Sandoval. In spite of the difference in vocal style, one is also drawn to stylistic comparisons with some of Rosie Thomas' work.
Whether or not 'Miles Away' does actually see any commercial success remains to be seen; the album is a gem that could replace gold as a commodity on the stock market - and Gloeckner herself looks set to become one of the main contenders for the title 'darling of the underground press' this year - music critics and music fans will love everything about about this album, and the woman behind the songs.
With the likes of Norah Jones and Laura Veirs making waves on the mainstream music scene and this years female fashion trends leaning towards 'American Folk' (yeh, we read the Style supplement in the Sunday Times too - so what?), Gloeckner and her album have all the credentials to become one of this years 'big things', although I hasten to add that the talent behind this inspirational album holds its own ground and has no need for trendy 'it' endorsement.
- Stu Olds