Music by VICE

Get Swept into the Fire of Jenny O.'s 'Work' EP

The singer-songwriter's unflinching new project tackles everything from chronic illness to climate change.

by Artemis Thomas-Hansard
Oct 7 2016, 6:20pm

LA-via-New York songstress Jenny O.'s self-produced sophomore EP, Work, is welcome autumnal reminder that good things indeed come in small packages. The project is a bright, clean little package effusing Ladies of the Canyon-era Joni Mitchell with a rough-hewn contemporary twist. Her shy, sweet vocals make it easy for her songs to slip under your skin, or soundtrack to a car commercial that actually makes you want hit the road—a tone Jenny O. has mastered, as her work has been licensed for several campaigns, from Subaru to Target to shows like True Blood, Grey's Anatomy, and Wilfred—but they're equally anchored by weighty subject matter. 

"'Cheer Up Free Your Mind' is my favorite," she says of the EP's first single. "I wrote it for myself and a friend who struggles with a chronic illness. At the time we were both helping each other up. In the song we repeatedly ask each other how we're doing and that feels nice to sing."

Other tracks touch upon more macro issues, like climate change, or love:

"'Holiday' is maybe disguised as a Christmas song for the easily ensnared," she says. "I worship and worry about the Earth, and here I was singing about how holy it is. It's a celebration. And a little bit of propaganda for climate deniers."

On the EP's closing track, which was inspired by German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, Jenny O. reveals: "'Schopenhauer On Love' was a really hard song for me in many ways. But I really wanted to write about how quickly and entirely we can fall for someone. I wanted it to be unabashed and a little dark," she says. "Arthur Schopenhauer wrote about his "will-to-life," the underlying and uncontrollable human impulse to procreate. He explains romance through this subconscious and absurd mechanism. Even someone who consciously aims to override it can be swept into its flame."

Check out the premiere of Jenny O.'s Work below.

singer songwriter
Jenny O.