Gentle Hen - Sneaking up on the Moon
"14 glowing tracks, each a different filter on Ohlenbusch’s witty, thoughtful lens on the world, full of existential dread and ennui, but also burning with brio and an unmistakable gratefulness for the richness of the whole diverse mess."
On September 11, 2016 Max, Brian, and I met in the brown carpeted Rub Wrongways Records studio. A lot can happen in a year. Twin Peaks was just a dream from the past. There were no fidget spinners. We weren't all shaking our heads at the barrage of crazy news stories streaming into our faces every five minutes. Barack Obama was the president.
We were just three carefree ragamuffins plugging in cables and tuning up strings. I threw fourteen tunes at Max and Brian and they caught them with a bass and a drum kit. In one grueling day, they tackled and transported all fourteen into inspired, sparkling songs.
Over the next several weeks, Ken dropped in the studio between his voyages playing with the B-52s and the Mammals and the Whoever-elses. I encouraged him to wield a guitar more often than a keyboard. We were mixing things up. We had to. Tony Westcott had moved south. Far, far south and in doing so, he gracefully exited the band stage-left. We were left with just us four. Ken and I traded off on guitar leads and hooks and riffs (in general that's Ken in the right speaker and I'm on the left). We also tossed in some delicious keyboard here and there for flavor.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year...the calendar pages were flipping and a week didn't go by where I wasn't recording a vocal or bringing in guests (Andy Goulet on pedal steel, Dave Trenholm on Saxophone, Lesa Bezo on guitar and vocals). I was mixing and remixing. Ken and Brian were singing together and separately. The songs were growing and evolving and maturing.
Inauguration Day came and we dug deeper in. The album became an escape. Music is what we do and we figured we better do it even better than before. We needed to make something. We needed to make sense.
The collection of songs was sent off to Mark Alan Miller for help in mixing and mastering and Max and I dove into finding the right artwork. I had a mood in my head and scoured through endless piles of photographs that I'd snapped over the years until we found the perfect one.
The record is called Sneaking up on the Moon. It nudges us to lift our heads from the screens, turn off the electric lights, leave the air conditioning, and spread out into the endless world. To be filled with adrenaline and danger like a Hardy Boy or a chipmunk in an amusement park. To feel the enormity of everything. To listen to the crickets or the snapping of the trees. To be reminded of who we are and what we want to be doing.
The songs range from growling to loungey, but there's a common thread of urgency and intensity. There are songs about the friend who won't commit, how we are all famous but not famous enough, temptation, existential panic, seeking freedom, coming of age, growing up, switching coasts, springtime, running through the woods, escaping responsibility, forgiveness, and celebration. And of course, much much more.
Thank you for reading this far and for all your support over the years. We hope you'll like this album, we are really happy with it. It's the best yet.