Sub Pop – SP1405 (2021) US
On her second full-length record, Head of Roses, Jenn Wasner follows a winding thread of intuition into the unknown and into healing, led by gut feelings and the near-spiritual experience of visceral songwriting.
The result is a combination of Wasner’s ability to embrace new levels of vulnerability, honesty and openness, with the self-assuredness that comes with a decade-plus career as a songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and prolific collaborator.
Simply put, Head of Roses is a record about heartbreak, but from a dualistic perspective. It’s about the experience of having one’s heart broken and breaking someone else’s heart at the same time. But beyond that, it’s about having to reconcile the experience of one’s own pain with the understanding that it’s impossible to go through life without being the source of great pain for someone else.
Wasner’s sophomore LP as Flock of Dimes was mostly written during the isolation of early Covid-19 quarantine and fresh heartbreak. Some songs, like the title track, came to Wasner wholly-formed, like fever dreams. Aside from album opener “2 Heads,” which Wasner had been saving for this purpose since she wrote it in 2015, Head of Roses was born from just a few months at her North Carolina home, during a feverish period of productivity spanning from last March through June.
But just as we change ourselves by embracing the pain of loss and uncertainty, so too are the purpose of these songs changed through the act of creating them. Having succeeded in healing the person who made them, they now exist for those who find them in their own moments of need. Always in motion, the original spirit of creation has already flown from this place—but it’s left behind a blueprint, a tool for you, to lean on, too.