By Robyn Welsh
CALGARY — “I like to write about what I see, not just what I feel.”
The concept of home, a place that is not just a house, and is where you feel happiest and most content, is the driving force of Jenny Berkel’s songwriting, particularly in her most recent album Pale Moon Kid. Berkel has always pondered the idea of home, “I’ve had so many homes… I’ve had probably 30 addresses. Home to me isn’t a house, it is a place where I can be at ease.”
This theme weaves throughout her songwriting: album cut “Lilac, Lily” carrying in the whimsical lyric “home is a knock on the door.”
All of the songs on the album were written over a period of two years, and in that time Berkel’s notion of home was tested during a move from Winnipeg, to Toronto, to Montreal. Berkel found herself tying strings from place to place, and drawing inspiration from the different geographies.
Two years of writing rolled into eight days of recording, and in the heat of summer in Welland Ontario, Berkel recorded Pale Moon Kid with help from her sister, Kay Berkel, as well as producer and collaborator Daniel Romano. The undeniable chemistry between the three shines through the cohesive layers of the album to give Pale Moon Kid an intimate feeling. This, in part, is due to the bond that Romano and Berkel formed playing together in the Trilliums band.
In speaking with BeatRoute, Berkel opines, “I like to write about what I see, not just what I feel.” In doing so, she draws inspiration from Leonard Cohen’s songwriting, and taps into Karen Dalton’s vocal styling, which she describes as “sad trumpet” sounding.
Berkel’s tendency to veer away from typical progressions and lean toward dissonant chords gives her music an unintentionally medieval tonality. Her mysterious and full-bodied voice combined, with the mystifying ambiance of the instrumentals typify Berkel’s unique sound.
Like many artists, Berkel prefers a show where people are listening intently, “I like to feel that people are very present at the show, it can be big, but I like it if people still feel close,” she says. At a recent show in Toronto at The Dakota Tavern, Berkel recounts, “It was very quiet at the show… but it felt a bit like we were having a family experience all together because it felt very intimate.”
Jenny Berkel makes many stops on her June Western Canada tour. Select stops include The Good Will in Winnipeg on June 2nd, Creative City Centre in Regina on June 5th, The Almanac in Edmonton on June 8th, Wine-Ohs in Calgary on June 9th and MoSo Fest in Sasktoon on June 16th.AB, Alberta, Creative City Centre, Jenny Berkel, MoSo Fest, The Almanac, The Good Will, Wine-Ohs