In Matador's storied history, we've had the pleasure of working with some ridiculously talented people. The latest name we're happy to add to the pantheon is the direct, evocative NYC-based vocalist/guitarist Jennifer O'Connor.
Jennifer grew up in Connecticut, Florida, and finally Atlanta, where after college she joined Violet, a band often compared to X and the Pixies. She started playing and recording solo after quitting Violet and moving to New York City. Her influences are other artists with a fresh take on personal experience, ranging from Destroyer, Silver Jews, Aimee Mann, and Smog, to Dylan and Petty, as well as Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Dizzee Rascal.
Jennifer released her debut EP, Truth Love Work, in 2000. Time Out wrote, "O'Connor is another Liz Phair or Elliott Smith waiting to happen. Her understated guitar-based songs lack the primping, preening and obviousness of Phair and the sad-sack whining of Smith. Rather, her matter-of-fact lyrics tell stories that us regular joes can relate to." Her self-released, self-titled debut followed in 2002, and Red Panda released the acclaimed The Color And The Light in May 2005.
Over The Mountain… is her 3rd CD, but it has the immediacy of a debut. The past year saw many personal upheavals which informed it more than she expected. “It’s been so tumultuous, I think that inevitably crept into my songs,” she says. “I wouldn't say that I always write from experience, but I did a lot of it on this record.” For her most emotional songs yet, she self-produced and got rid of reverb and extraneous sounds, giving them an urgency that her other records didn’t always have. She explains, “There’s a lot of space; we purposefully pared everything down to what was necessary for the song.”
While Jennifer writes (and often performs) alone on guitar, each song here (save the acoustic single-take “Today”) is fleshed out with a band which includes her longtime drummer Jon Langmead, James McNew (Yo La Tengo) on bass, Kendall Meade (Sparklehorse, Helium) on keyboards and vocals, and other friends, including Britt Daniel (Spoon) on vocals, and Al Weatherhead, who produced Color and plays guitar on many tracks.