The atmosphere is enticingly dark, sometimes almost anxious, but Here on a Wire is a great record for a slow early evening or a long night.
Here on a Wire is 24-year-old Jenny Berkel’s first full-length release, and hopefully the first of many. While the themes she explores might seem to be standard singer-songwriter fare (love, loss, change), her phrasing and imagery are often captivating and her voice haunting. Lyrically, Berkel is often drawn to materials and geographies, as we’re constantly located in and amongst things -- love appears as a stone, lovers as creased maps, and cities as drying laundry. Berkel’s smoky, breathy voice stands poised amongst circulating attachments, and yet the motion almost threatens to break her down. "You stop and you go," she repeats plaintively on "After Moon Falls". Snatches and fragments of relationships unfold and decompose across the record, which is overwhelmingly marked by a sense of loss, but we’re intriguingly unsure if the writer is relating her own history or something older -- something ancient, even. "Ghosts like these ones, they have come a long way," she hints on "Come a Long Way".
Berkel’s earlier EP featured a more minimalist presentation, but Here on a Wire is thick and polished. French horns, dynamic and expressive drumming, organ, and upright bass are just a few of the sounds that lead us through her blues. Having relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Berkel seems to have found her crew of musicians, all who offer sensitive and tasteful support. The tone here often tends towards the melancholic, but the lush arrangements keep things interestingly varied and yet grounded in a folk-pop sensibility. This debut shows off a young and dedicated songwriter with a strong poetic vision. The atmosphere is enticingly dark, sometimes almost anxious, but Here on a Wire is a good record for a slow early evening or a long night.