Jess Cornelius announces her debut album, Distance, out July 24th on Loantaka Records, and presents a new single/video, “Kitchen Floor.” Cornelius first began writing the songs that would comprise Distance after moving from Melbourne, Australia to Los Angeles. At the time, she was excited to start fresh after several years as the primary songwriter in the band Teeth and Tongue. But the distance she addresses over the album is hardly a geographical one. Instead, Distance finds a deft songwriter analyzing the space between society’s expectations and her own dreams, the illusion of love and the reality of disappointment, and a past she is ready to let go of and a future she could have hardly imagined.
Distance documents a songwriter in the pursuit of living life on her own terms. As Cornelius puts it, “A lot of the record was about me deciding to continue this nomadic lifestyle of being a musician. People would ask me if I was going to have a family and a lot of the songs are about me being ok with not pursuing that path. It was about coming to terms with the choices I had made. . . And then two years later, I’m knocked up and married! I couldn’t have imagined that.”
With the help of producer Tony Buchen, Distance became a roving affair, recorded in a string of Los Angeles studios with delicate and emphatic contributions from the local music scene, including Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint), harpist Mary Lattimore, Emily Elhaj (Angel Olsen), Stephanie Drootin (Bright Eyes), Jesse Quebbeman-Turley (Hand Habits), whistler Molly Lewis, Justin Sullivan (Night Shop, Kevin Morby) and Laura Jean Anderson.
While the sonic tones and textures on the album evoke certain classic staples of Americana, soul and rock and roll, Cornelius’ lyrics anchor the songs to a deeply personal place. She sings of a miscarriage, a messy romantic affair, and the frustrations that come with having a partner. As she says, “I am a fan of classic songwriting but I would hope that the lyrics are not of any time historically but rather this time of my life as a woman.”
Cornelius gave a first taste of Distance with “No Difference,” released last year. On new single “Kitchen Floor,” Cornelius maps the space between the bedroom and the front door over a Roy Orbison tinged rave-up, lamenting the coming pain: “This is gonna be a hard one.” Its accompanying video, the first in a series in which she plays a familiar female character trope, was filmed by Cornelius and her partner on an iPhone at 5am in Los Angeles so they wouldn’t encounter any people. “I have a weird fascination with Hollywood Blvd — it’s such a grotesque place most of the time,” says Cornelius. “But I knew we’d have the chance to experience it deserted and empty, and it was like a different place. I’d been watching a lot of ‘last human on earth’ apocalypse-type films. Mostly, the concept behind the clip was to have this character just owning it. There are so many things pregnant women are not ‘supposed’ be doing, like having casual sex with strangers. There’s a loneliness, too, that I wanted to get across in the clip, but ultimately she’s in a state of friendliness with herself and the world.”
Cornelius will preview some of the new material on Distance tomorrow, Wednesday, May 27th at 8pm pacific/11pm Eastern, via a livestream performance on her Instagram.