On her third full-length, Portland, Oregon-based artist and songwriter Jenn Rawling delivers Golden Colors, a ten-track collection of harmony rich indie-folk songs that embody the D.I.Y. spirit.

Recorded with friends and fellow musicians in a house in Durango, Colorado, and co-produced with Awna Teixeira (of Po Girl) and Inajah Lujan (of In/planes), Golden Colors is Rawling’s first record created outside of a traditional studio.

“I rented a small house and invited a handful of musical friends to co-produce and create the album,” Rawling says of the experience.  “I invited some very talented players and singers, everyone’s in really great bands and projects.  What a cast of collaborators: Awna Teixeira, Inaiah Lujan, Desirae Garcia, Fred Kosak, Chela Lujan, and Alissa Wolf.  We stayed on site together, which afforded us the luxury to work long hours and create a container of intimacy, friendship, and comfortability, which are all important components of recording for me.  Inaiah Lujan was on board with years of sound experience, the right equipment, and a passion for home recording.  There was a great synergy in this group of people.”

The result is a record that mixes the richness of Rawling’s voice and lyrics with the grit of Americana in the caldron of creative collaboration.  Golden Colors journeys through heartbreak, renewal, connection, and betrayal, ultimately transforming these experiences into a devotion to feel the love to keep on walking, no matter what.  Rawling created this record “as an offering of beauty and healing to the broken world.”  It honors those who bring balance, resistance, and forge another way forward, and offers healing to those seeking it.

Rawling wrote all the songs on her baritone ukulele and envisioned rich harmonies and instrumental soundscapes around them.  Her goal for Golden Colors was to have subtle, but beautiful accompaniment and vocal harmonies to take the songs to another level, surpassing the folk genre, while remaining rooted in the tradition.  “I feel like we achieved that,” she says of the album’s sound.  “I’m really happy with the attention we gave and how we addressed each song with so much detail and focus.  I’m trying to write songs that come from the heart and are less about fulfilling expectations of a particular genre or sound.”

Golden Colors was more than recording a collection of songs for Rawling, the entire process was profound for her and her friends.  “The process was amazing.  We had so much fun making this record together.  That’s what I’ll always hear when I listen to the songs, my friends, the voices of these fantastic people who really showed up and brought their whole selves to this project.  It was so wonderful and reaffirming.  Not to mention, how talented they are and how awesome they all sound.”

Rawling brought to life the lyrics by focusing on her vocals and finding variation in her voice, something she paid close attention to.  “The lyrics are central to the songs.  The instrumentation supports the vocals and builds the motion and mood of the songs.  I got the vocals exactly how I wanted them.  This meant being mindful about using my voice intentionally and appropriately, to fit the drama of the song, to create strong harmonies, to sing confidently,” she says.

“Jenn’s voice, always expressive, takes on all new tints and hues in these songs.  And her poetry flows like a mountain stream, beautiful but full of mystery.” – Michael Rene Zuzel, Jefferson WordWorks.

The title track, “Golden Colors,” is one of the album standouts for Rawling, who says, “Inaiah, Awna, and I really pulled the vibe of that song out in a way that feels perfect.  It’s open and it moves, it’s moody and beautiful.  The flute solo was recorded around 3:30am after recording all day, which contributes to the surreal, dreamy, late-night feeling that I love.”

“I wrote all of these songs in the last three years while I was going through some major transitions and taking a professional musical break after touring too much,” she says of Golden Colors.  “The songs were free and they all just showed up without agenda or purpose.  There was time to develop them and give them space to evolve.  There was no pressure and I loved writing them.  I wasn’t even sure I would ever record them.”

Rawling boils her themes down to four categories: “Basically there’s the ‘ouch, my heart’s broke’ songs, there’s the ‘ouch, the world’s heart is broke’ songs, the ‘ooo, love is nice’ songs, and there’s the ‘magical songs,’ songs that are intended to mend us spiritually, connect us back to nature.”

“Rawling’s songs contain striking details, offering intricate shadows within acoustic, open-faced honesty.” – Ned Lannamann, The Portland Mercury

“Some of the songs are about classic human experiences, but some are exploring totally different themes like trying to work a path through difficult current events.  Maybe I’m thinking about how [messed up] everything feels.  We’re disconnected and spinning towards destruction.  We have climate crisis, the destruction of nature, communities of color suffering ill proportionately, our political realms have been high-jacked by white supremacists, etc.  I’m trying to address these problems creatively, or to at least begin addressing them.  Sometimes a good starting point to dealing with problems is to name hard truths.  Music can do that.  Folk songs definitely do that.  The songs I sing are intended to knit us back to our humanity and our connection to each other and nature.  I think music and art can help build a power inside us as we work towards justice together.

“My intention as a songwriter and visual artist right now is to contribute something that shifts our culture from violent and toxic to beautiful and positive.  I’m interested in using my energy this way, to mending the broken parts with a lot of intention.  So I work artistically towards the goal of healing.”

Now, with a collection of ten powerful, moving songs she hopes her poetic lyrics and endearing melodies connect with the listener and offer up the renewal, hope, and life that she – and her friends – put into making Golden Colors.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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