After a year that included the release of their debut album and tours with Nada Surf, M. Ward, and Kevin Morby, Brooklyn’s Big Thief are playing Sunset Tavern on Sunday, March 5th. Lead singer Adrianne Lenker creates distinct portraits of her past with unabashed lyrics and a striking voice.
Assuming that a pedigree in such things has any relevance at all, which is certainly unclear, Henry Jamison was perhaps predisposed to songwriting. His great-great-great-great-great-great-great (etc.) grandfather was the 14th century poet John Gower (friend to Chaucer and Richard II) and his great-great-great-great grandfather was George Frederick Root, the most popular songwriter of the Civil War era. Probably more relevant is that his mother is an English professor and his father a classical composer, who gave him a Korg 8-track recorder and his first guitar.
Henry attended a Waldorf School near his hometown of Burlington, VT, sang in a traveling folk choir and played viola in local youth orchestras. After an academically turbulent stint as an English major at Bowdoin College in Maine, he left on tour for two years with a band of bearded friends. This period was full of joys and sorrows and ended in a move back home. After a few attempts at recording a solo debut with a cadre of talented players, Henry decided to demo some new ideas on his old Korg 8-track, which would go on to become The Rains EP. These songs show a central interest in exploring inner worlds, observing their treasures and holding none in contempt. They run the gamut from an earnest reckoning with romantic upheaval (“Real Peach”), to a knee-jerk and distorted view of the same (“Through a Glass”), to storm-driven dreamscapes (“The Rains” and “Dallas Love Field”). Finally, in “No One Told Me,” Henry stands metaphorically on his own “Galleons Lap” (the summit where Christopher Robin says Goodbye-for-Now to the Hundred Acre Wood in A.A. Milne’s House at Pooh Corner) and looks out, with a newfound composure born of relationship, to the horizon of the Who-Knows-What that is the life of a musician.