Interview: Henry Jamison draws from a long past to find his own thread

Henry JamisonHidden away on an undisturbed mountainside of Vermont lies a recording pilgrimage for New England musicians. The sounds of the wilderness are a welcome and inescapable nightcap that fills the crisp, clean air with its calm disposition. In this setting, millennial transcendentalist folk singer Henry Jamison recorded his debut album, The Wilds. Released 27th October 2017 on Akira Records, the album moves with a contemplative stillness. With an intimacy and direct inspiration of bands like Big Thief, the collection of tracks aches with raw and honest emotional reach. Jamison grabs at the open spaces of atmosphere to cling to a delicate landscape of songs.

The setting for his recently released album can be felt throughout the album. “Ethan West's cabin is up the side of a mountain, with beautiful views, dogs, cats, and chickens. It's a retreat, for sure, but I didn't necessarily feel all that peaceful because we were working so hard,” Jamison says. All of that hard work is evident and well worth any helter-skelter along the way. Already racking up nearly 30 million streams before the debut release, Jamison selected a collection of songs from the past few years, various cuts, and reworks to make the final cut.

The Wilds plays more like a novel than anything else, which is no surprise considering his background. Jamison’s family lineage includes an English professor, a composer, and the 14th-century British poet John Gower, who was known to be a friend of Chaucer. One could say that the arts have left a memorable impact on his life. “It was probably Pete Seeger or Raffi, who both made a big impression. But maybe the most memorable to me is the cassette tape of Peter and the Wolf, just because the music was so good and the wolf was so scary,” Jamison explains. There is a definite intimacy and honesty wrapped throughout the music on The Wilds. But capturing that type of depth is no simple and menial task. “It means more than can be expressed, I think, that language is almost enough to express the whole of being human, which many people might disagree with. I just read too much poetry to feel otherwise." Music is such an expressive and mysterious muse that Jamison cites it as starving off therapy, like a universal cure.


Perhaps one of the most delicately intriguing tracks on the album, “The Last Time I Saw Adrianne” is about Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker. It walks with a gentle appreciation. The lyrics of the original pull at a whiskey-drenched ache and Jamison’s version does not disappoint. “I wrote it before Big Thief formed, right after she wrote "Paul", and it was really just a verse of admiration for her and her songs,” he explains. The melodies that Jamison creates soothe and sway like a calming wave or autumn breeze. “I named it that to make it a clear nod to her and to this little collection of songs out there that include that really poignant phrase since it contains so much coming-and-going.”

The Wilds paints a picture as expansive as the sounds held within. Easily bringing to mind images of thick forests or endless shorelines, Jamison wants each listener to be transported: “Maybe it takes them to an open field, or a plane leaving Tokyo. They might have to be a bit mournful to enjoy it, so I hope it’s cathartic.” That catharsis builds as a perpetual swell on the beautifully arranged album. Every element of the production and songwriting process feels hands-on and grassroots. Minimalist in part but expansive in others, The Wilds is perfect for a long drive, or a quiet evening at home, but can still stand among the hustle of everyday life.

Jamison recently returned home after two months of touring as both a solo act and with a band in the US. “I’m excited for the record to finally be out," he tells me, "because it’s been a long time coming, and my mind is about two big steps out ahead of it.” There’s a certain romanticism in each delicate piece that comes across the sonic plane. With all of the hard work behind him and future releases set on the horizon, Jamison can reflect on each step along the way. Perhaps the crisp mountain air awaits him as the empty rooms of a cabin creak with potential. The Wilds is out now, and ready for another adventure, another story, and another stroll through the existential wilderness it creates.


One Response to “Interview: Henry Jamison draws from a long past to find his own thread”


    1. Interview: Henry Jamison draws from a long past to find his own thread – Live List - 03/11/2017

      […] post Interview: Henry Jamison draws from a long past to find his own thread appeared first on […]

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *