Gretchen Lohse's lone first full-length "Primal Rumble", released in December 2013, is a captivating album filled with a lovely writing style that prods playfully at the listener in both verse and song. It's really wonderful to hear Lohse toe the line between light and dark so effortlessly, with an almost breathless ease as she sings each melody. We can't help but think of Nick Drake or Simon & Garfunkel where Lohse's songs are concerned, but this certainly doesn't define her, and on our album favorite "Rings" she captures the unlimited space between her story and a song that serenades nature with such a sweetness and warmth that it makes you believe you could be there walking along with her, "a simple tune I found written in your rings", she hauntingly sings.
The Philadelphia native is a seasoned multiinstrumentalist, arranger and talented songwriter that has featured in local groups Arc In Round, Yellow Humphrey, Spinto Band, and Nightlands. It seems as though this album has been a long time coming for the musician, with songs ranging from introspection on love, to ghostly reveries, and poetic musings, and utilizing many of the musicians that she's worked with in the past who are familiar with her style: it all just...fits. Gretchen took some time recently to answer a few questions for us, and since the album release she has also put out a really beautiful and re-imagining of "Walking In The Air", a cover of one of the songs from the animated and haunting children's story, "The Snowman" (which you can also download from Lohse's soundcloud). Don't miss out on this very talented musician's debut LP via bandcamp, or purchase a cassette tape release of her album via Humble Twin Records.
See Gretchen Lohse perform live in Newark, DE, where she'll celebrate her album release at Rainbow Records (54 E. Main Street, Newark in Delaware) along with Doug O'Donnell (ex-Dr. Dog) and Carol Cleveland Sings! This event is a FREE all-ages in-store and begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 1st.
GIRL ABOUT TOWN: This is a Winter release for your work - did you time it that way and do you feel as though the songs fit the season?
Gretchen Lohse: It wasn't my original intention to release it in the winter. I was actually hoping to put it out in the autumn, but got busy and had to wait. Looking back, it does seem fitting. For me, winter is a time for introspection and self evaluation. Everything outside is stripped down and simplified. The songs on Primal Rumble echo this feeling.
I love the imagery for your album cover, did you choose which artifacts would go into your space suit or why and how did you come up with the idea of the suit?
Thank you! I was inspired by an old photo of France Gall, where she is dressed in a space suit and opening a box to reveal wires and knobs. Instead of electronics, I thought it would be interesting to have the box filled with simple objects, artifacts of an earlier time. Each item corresponds with a song on the album.
You've worked with quite a few other locally-based bands. Was this release something more comforting and esoteric for you to take on (one voice versus many)?
It was. There's something that really speaks to me about songs with simple arrangement and I thought that's what this group of songs really needed. Certain pieces require room to breathe.
Did you play all of the instruments on the album, and as a multi-instrumentalist - what has been your favorite instrument to learn and play?
I was aided by a lot of talented folks on this album! Many of the instruments were played by me, but I had a lot of help. My favorite instrument to learn so far is the guitar - it was so empowering. Before I learned guitar I wasn't really able to write my own songs. I had to rely on other people to help me.
What has been your favorite song to play so far (lyrics vs. sound) and why?
Probably Spider at the Gate. It's really fun to sing and I always like songs with a spooky feeling the best.
What is your favorite thing about Philly?
Even though it's a city, the music community is warm and loving and makes it feel like a small town. I'm constantly being inspired.
Album Tracklisting for Primal Rumble:
1. All Around River
2. Two Travelers
4. The Role of Rabbits
5. Ornament of the Enamored Heart
8. The Cuckoo
9. Spider At The Gate
10. Primal Rumble