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Interview With Jen Ambrose

How would you describe your music to any person who may have never heard it before? Jen: “Nouveau Blues.” My music is lyric-driven and strongly influenced by traditional blues, but I also draw from jazz, pop and Americana styles.

Press shot for Americana artist Jen Ambrose.
Photo courtesy of Ashley Osborn.

What are your musical influences?

J: Mostly, it’s blues and jazz, but also old country, folk, classical, and world music.

As a child, I studied flute and oboe in school and took piano lessons. Most of the music I was learning was classical. My early singing was in church and school choirs - most of this music was also classical. Then in high school, I was part of a small vocal group and we sang mostly old jazz standards. At the same time, I started listening to older classic rock and became particularly influenced by Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Rolling Stones, and Janice Joplin. As I started learning guitar and songwriting, I realized these artists were influenced by much older and deeper roots of music.

Peeling back those layers I realized that old Blues, Jazz and Country - the roots of American music - are at the heart of the music that has had the most influence on me.

What are your musical inspirations?

J: I’m very inspired by Bonnie Raitt. She’s had such longstanding success in her career and continues to create new music. Last year, she toured to promote her new album. I like the way she draws from the blues and Americana genres in her music. Her songs have had a profound ability to reach my heart. Bonnie’s expressive guitar work and moving vocals really inspires an honesty and storytelling in my own songwriting.

I just saw that Dolly Parton was performing for the half-time football game on Thanksgiving. At 77, she is still creating new music, still putting it out there to the world and performing on a large scale. She has a songwriting ability that speaks to so many in a way that transcends genre or age. She is another female artist who is an incredible inspiration for me. Plus, she has put together Imagination Library - it’s a literacy program encouraging young people to read! When I grow up, I want to be more like Dolly Parton.

If given the chance, what musician(s) would you like to collaborate with? Rather this is to either write a song or be featured on a track. J: Bonnie Raitt. I would be so honoured to co-write with her or be featured on one of her tracks!

What’s the new album about? J: This album is about loving - about deeply connecting with another, about losing love to another, about what it takes to fully commit to loving someone.

What’s something you hope people take away from the new songs on the album? J: Love can lift you up, and it can drop you down. This music speaks to all of the complex emotions that love can bring. To be human is to love. My hope is that this music can be a healing balm for the hearts of those who know what it means to love.

Which songs on the album were the most fun to write and which were the most challenging to write? J: The most fun song to write was "Crazy Love." It’s a jazz-influenced song. I was experimenting with stacking three-part harmonies on my looping pedal and it expanded into this fun song. The guys did an amazing recording, and I was happy to add a little flute to the track.

The most challenging song was "Sit Down Daddy." Ken and I spend months working out this song. It became a period piece with the '30s to '40s era swing band feel. What took so much time was coming up with lyrics that had a more old-time ring to them. It was terrific when we finally got it!

Do you have any favourite songs from the new album?

J: My favourite song is "Love & Money." It’s one of the more emotionally intense songs on the album and singing it helps me face some of my own inner struggles. I love what the musicians brought to this recording - a blend of Santana and Zeppelin in the instrumentation that really brings out some of the emotional depth of the song.

Do you have any favourite songs to perform live? Could be your own music or even a cover. Any reason why?

J: "I Draw The Line." This will be released with the entire album in January. I love how the band performs this song - it’s really moving and intense where the bass and keys bring out a strong low end in the song. It’s a song about being wronged by someone you love. It has a really interesting bridge arrangement that highlights the emotionality of the music. It’s such a great song to do live, super powerful.

If you could perform a show this very second anywhere in the world, where would it be? Is there any particular venue(s) or city/cities that comes to mind?

J: Austin, TX - specifically Austin City Limits!

What do you currently have planned for the remainder of the year?

J: 2023 is quickly coming to an end, so I’ll be getting the rest of the album ready for release on January 12, 2024. In the meantime I have a handful of regional performances highlighting my solo-live-looping shows plus several duo performances and with the full band - Jen Ambrose & The Mystics. I’m also writing new music and collaborating with Ken Orsow again with plans to begin recording new singles in 2024.

Thanks for the time today. Is there anything else you may want to add before you go?

J: My sincerest thanks to all of you for creating space for independent artists to have a voice and share our experiences with your audience. I appreciate the work you do to support new music!

As I mentioned, my full album, Plenty Of Nothin’ To Do, will be released on all digital platforms on January 12, 2024. I invite folks to check out some of the singles already released in this past year. Thank you again!


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