EP Review

Jenny Sturgeon with Alice Allen & Grant Anderson – Wintergreen: EP Review

Jenny Sturgeon and friends on a dreamy, ethereal set that revels in the intimacy.

Release Date: 3rd November 2023

Label: Hudson Records

Format: digital / CD

Jenny Sturgeon is an artiste who has a penchant for collaboration. Alongside recent outings with Salt House, with Alice Allen on Cut & Run and on Knapped with another Hudson Records artiste MG Boulter, there was also her own Living Mountain (just repressed in mauve vinyl!) whose immersive nature finds another home on Wintergreen. An affinity for the natural world that reflects her academic pursuits (PhD in seabird ecology) is at the core of Wintergreen and what Jenny Sturgeon has got off to a tee is combining found sounds and a musical ethereality to create a wholly unique experience and atmosphere.

Included in the six song sequence are an adaptation of a poem by botanist and explorer Isobel Wylie Hutchison and a reworking of Frost And Snow from The Living Mountain. “Songs about love, escapism, constellations and standing up for yourself,” says Jenny.A very intimate experience it is too on Wintergreen, with the opening minimalism of the title tracks revealing the close up detail that Andy Bell seems so adept at capturing. Alice Allen’s rich cello adds a depth to the fragile ambiience and while dreamy and ethereal may be the focus but there are moments of stark reality. “How can one person make that much washing up?” she asks in the comtemplation of solitude in the track of the same name. “Just me and the birds and the rattling window” and the radio provides he only other human voice.

Grant Anderson’s lead basslines guide Beyond The You And I with an eye on the night sky while he’s joined by guitar and likely other subtlties, to provide an ominous presence to the reworked Frost And Snow. The starkness this time coming from a hypnotic and percussive groove that might have us dashing back to an encounter with The Living Mountain. Like that album, Wintergreen (recorded in Shetland) contains a continuous field recording, ensuring that the sights and sounds provide a continuous flow and a subtle vein theoughout the set and help marry the musical vision and landscape.

Sycamore may well find itself a poignant reminder not so much to the tree which Jenny addresses in “watch you from the garden” but the famous Sycamore Gap tree, recently felled. Tumbling piano and the sparkle of guitar harmonics sit side by side with and a sadness at the passage of time – “tiny pieces that mark the years.” Cut And Run reappears with underwater escapism at the core of the Allen/Sturgeon piece whose original gossamer fine arrangement is enriched by a deeper cello that swoops briefly in and out and some fascinating sounds bubbling beneath the surface.

Another piece of quality first music from a master of the craft.

Here’s Solitude from the album:

Jenny Sturgeon online: Website / Facebook / X – formerly Twitter / Soundcloud / Youtube

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