Album Review: Juniper Street

Last week, Reed freshman Darci Phenix released her new EP, Juniper Street. Both quiet and filled with life, Juniper Street consists of indie/folk songs carefully crafted from intimate poetry and a talented ensemble.  

Juniper Street, named after a mysterious road in Yellowstone, consists of six tracks and runs at seventeen minutes. The lyrics, influenced by indie artists like Jenny Lewis, stem from years of personal experience. The introspective metaphors scattered throughout the record present a personal yet relatable exploration of themes such as love, relationships, and anxiety.

The two-month long recording process allowed for an eclectic and professional array of instruments. Banjo, violin, piano, and trumpet all create a pleasant cohabitation of lyrics and soundscape. “With this EP, we hardly used electronic instruments, and I think that’s a good reflection of this focus and importance we [Benjamin Kopf and I] placed on instrumentation,” says Phenix. This is first heard on the opening track, “Late August,” which presents a soft vocal melody interlaced with banjo and violin. The vocal melody on the track “Paper Boat” is complemented by bass and trumpet. What begins as a fairly minimalist composition on the final tack, “I Have Forgiven Everything” soon becomes a sweet and memorable ending as the vocals are accompanied by both violin and piano.  

Phenix grew up in a music-filled household in Sacramento, California. She first learned the guitar, then the piano and banjo, all instruments featured on her new record. Inspired by an eclectic array of artists, including Elliott Smith, Haley Heynderickx, Bright Eyes, Big Thief, Courtney Barnett, and many more, Phenix began songwriting in high school. Darci explains how this record is characterized by her growing appreciation for musical technique. “This project reflects an accurate depiction of how my musical perspective has changed and grown,” she said. “I feel that I approached Juniper Street with a greater awareness of how important instrumentation is and I think that awareness was reflected in the EP. As someone who has always focused more heavily on lyricism, this was a challenge for me.”

Released by Team Love Records, a New York based indie record label company started in 2003 by Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes and Nathaniel Krenkel, Juniper Street is now available on Bandcamp, Spotify and Apple Music. Darci will perform live this November 4 at the Big Legrowlski in Northwest Portland.

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