Jenny Berkel is a Canadaian poet, singer/songwriter and guitarist. The past couple of years have been busy for Berkel: her debut chapbook Grease Dogs was published last June through Baseline Press. She also wrote and released her sophomore album, last year’s Pale Moon Kid.
Berkel’s third album These Are The Sounds Left from Leaving is slated for a May 13, 2022 release through Outside Music. These Are The Sounds Left from Leaving will reportedly showcase the perspective of a unique storyteller whose work is centered around relatable introspection: Each song on the album is set in the micro-world of a keen feeling observer, trying to parse a mindful moment in a mad, mad, mad world in which it feels impossible to gleam truth — a post-Trump, heavily gaslit world where perceptions of reality are hopelessly distorted.
“I wrote the album in a tiny apartment, at a time when everything felt big and overwhelming,” Berkel says in press notes. She was living in a brownstone walk-up full of radiant light and the omnipresent sound of a leaky bathtub faucet. It was a sudden move at the time — a spontaneous departure from touring, bustling city life, being many things to many people — that landed the Canadian poet and singer/songwriter in a space of self-imposed stillness.
“The songs themselves are a study of proximity, bringing big fears into small spaces,” the Canadian artist explains in press notes. “They’re intimate examinations of a world that often overwhelms.”
These Are The Sounds Left from Leaving was recorded live off the floor at The Sugar Shack and was co-produced by Dan Edmons, Ryan Boldt and Berkel. The album features guest spots from critically acclaimed folk duo Kacy & Clayton, and string arrangements by Colin Nealis. “I wanted the songs to feel like living creations that capture a living moment,” Berkel says. “I wanted that theme of big fears in small spaces to be heard and felt as a coexistence of intimacy and menacing permeability.”
“Kaleidoscope,” the album’s first single is a lush and meditative song featuring an arrangement of soaring strings, glistening acoustic guitar, gently padded drumming, twinkling piano and Berkel’s gorgeous and expressive vocal singing lyrics with a novelist’s attention to detail — both physical and psychological. And as a result, the song feels dizzyingly intimate yet cinematic.
Thematically, the song is a poetic consideration of the importance of care and precision in language, both in the broader political landscape and in intimate emotional ways. From the heart-wrench confusion of interpersonal manipulation, the song and its narrator extrapolate a collectively felt disorientation at the kaleidoscopic swirling of disinformation, misinformation and lies.
Directed by Meg Hubley, the accompanying video stars Jenny Berkel and Mads Higgins is a cinematic fever dream that features Berkel in a tiny bedroom set up, alternating between watching herself on TV, opening a luggage crate, from which a clown-like doppleganger — starred by Higgins — pops out. Higgins’ character manipulates Berkel in various ways throughout the video.