Tenci - A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing
A well is a stone-encircled place of depth, keeping an abundance of water for survival. “Well” is also a phrase for pause, for transition in language. Our tears can well up and bubble over. To define ourselves as “well” is the most basic term of goodness.
What’s on the other side of the well? Inside the tunnel of change, or this life, we can either feel intimidated by the darkness of uncertainty, or excited by the possibility of nourishment. Songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist Jess Shoman wonders, “what the hell,” why don’t we go for the excess of love we deserve? Tenci’s album A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing becomes a gathering and collection of well-like vessels – cups, puddles, fists – to hold tight to this love and newfound joy.
A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing is Tenci’s second album, coming after their 2020 debut My Heart Is An Open Field, which introduced Jess Shoman’s music explorations to the world. Shoman admits that their first album dealt with letting go of painful life experiences, resulting in emptiness. In this recent collection of wiser years and distance from that former grief, Tenci carries an opposite feeling, a celebration of self-rejuvenation. A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing shows Shoman steering their inventive music further and wilder, spilling over with 12 fable-like songs. In a combination of milk, coins, glass, water, and light, each song forms a spell to “fill my heart back up,” Shoman says, “by reframing complex feelings by turning my head sideways and seeing them in a different way.”
The single 'Netsanet' (feat. Mulatu Astatke) is a deep exploration of Mulatu's trademark Ethio-jazz, while Crushing Lactic, composed by Tom Rogerson (fresh from a recent collaboration with Brian Eno) has a frenzied flow, with big horns and driving rhythm section.
Elsewhere, Pete Wareham (stalwart of the London jazz revival) lends his free-flowing sax to What’s Gone Before, leading us into a powerful communion of jazz and brass as Mulatu Astatke’s Derashe takes the listener down a vibrating rhythmic path while accompanied by blasts of horns and Mulatu’s trademark vibraphone. Two spoken word compositions ('Why Yellow' and 'Climbing Up My Own Life Until I Die') featuring York-born writer and comedian Rob Auton lend an introspective voice to 'Collaborations: Volume One'.
2. Vanishing Coin
4. Great Big Elephant
5. Cold Dirty Water
6. The Ball Spins
7. Sharp Wheel
8. Out Of Body
9. Sour Cherries
10. Swallow Me Whole, Blue
11. Two Cups
Genre: Indie & Alternative
Format: Vinyl LP
Released: 16th December 2022