Music

Americana's Jen Starsinic Probes Depression and Anxiety in "Bad Actor" (premiere)

Photo: Angelina Castillo / Courtesy ofBaby Robot Media

Americana singer-songwriter Jen Starsinic gets confessional about depressions and anxiety her new single "Bad Actor".

Jen Starsinic's new album Bad Actor arrives on 7 February and finds the singer-songwriter is full confessional mode.

She says, "'Bad Actor' is probably the most directly autobiographical song on this record about my lifelong struggles with depression and anxiety and the kind of tuning-out that tends to happen for me. It's a great title track in that it anchors the 'calling BS on yourself' theme of this record. I have little cues that clue me into where I currently am on a dysthymic continuum, one being the amount of TV I am currently consuming. I'd been binging That 70s Show so much that I was dreaming in the joke cadence of the show and would walk around my little neighborhood in Nashville feeling like I was on a different planet. I don't view it as a mental illness, though. I can point to the things that I'm trying to avoid, that feel too hard to deal with. It's dysfunctional but also reasonable, in a way."

Joining her on this new effort art Nashville pedal steel legend, Paul Niehaus (Calexico, Iron & Wine, currently plays with Justin Townes Earle, Iris Dement), Ben Alleman (synths, piano, organ, Jenny Lewis) and Parker McAnnally (producer, bassist, mix engineer) of the Prescriptions who are recently signed to Single Lock Records.

The Berklee College of Music graduate delivers a poignant, intimate and stunning track with "Bad Actor", highlighting the loneliness of anxiety and depression while avoiding clichés and offering up a musical setting that is at once deeply familiar and stunningly new.

Starsinic adds, "I think it's hard to admit to yourself when you're that down, like embracing it is going to make it worse when really it's the only way through it. So writing a song about how messed up I felt was pretty comforting and empowering. I love songs that are 'sad' but also move. I think the problem with depression isn't the sadness; it's the stagnation.

"The imagery for this song is inspired by where I live in Nashville on the outskirts of town. There's a little spot in a park that I walk in where teenagers go to get stoned, and it reminded me of the small town I grew up in with kids meeting up in the woods to get drunk and party. The communal realness of stuff like that is really comforting to me in a town like Nashville, which can sometimes be kind of harshly image-obsessed.

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