Jennifer O’Connor has a smoky, soothing voice that blends with the sparse instrumentation of her folk-inflected rock tunes in a reassuring way. Listening to Jennifer, it just feels like everything is going to be alright. It’s like getting that 3am phone call from a friend just when you needed it. Like that reassuring phone call, it’s easy to overlook the pain on the other end of the line.
Jennifer taps the minor key melodicism that fuels the best work of artists like Nick Drake or the quieter works of Yo La Tengo. There is sadness and optimism dancing in shadows and smoke. The opening track, “Mountains”, morphs from the fear that comes with falling in love to the knowledge that love is an infinite resource. It’s a scary trip, but one worth taking. “It’s Going to Get Worse”, acknowledges that solving problems takes work and time. “Black Sky Blanket” has some good advice for those in despair: “Time meets me halfway, most days. I’ve got so much I want to hear and say.”
Listening to Surface Noise, I suddenly wished I still had a radio show. As I drove around listening to the disc in my car, that old instinct, I have to play that on the air, hit me over and over. I don’t have a radio show anymore, so I just have to urge you to get a copy or find some other way to listen to Jennifer. I think you’ll like Surface Noise.