LOU TURNER – ” Songs For John Venn “

Posted: July 8, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , ,

Texas-born / Nashville-based singer-songwriter Lou Turner has crafted some kind of low-key masterpiece with “Songs For John Venn”, released a couple months back by the Spinster Sounds label. The album’s sonic picture is made up of Astral Weeks-y flute flutters, Hurley-worthy armchair boogies, garage-y rambles, and beyond. But however eclectic it gets, the album is held together firmly by Turner’s singular lyrics and perfectly breezy vocals. She can make even the most tongue-twisted of lines sound as natural as a conversation with friends, blending wry humor with piercing observations, stony wonderings with crystal clear vision. These tunes follow their own weird inner logic but remain altogether accessible for the casual listener—a neat trick, indeed. Conjuring up circles within circles and wheels within wheels, Songs For John Venn feels both mystical and earthy, both feet on the ground with its head in the clouds.

Lou Turner (aka Lauren Turner) grew up in Texas, playing music in school and at church. She remembers hearing her mother harmonizing along with everything—from commercials, to songs on the radio, to religious hymns. Her listening quickly expanded in high school and college from singer-songwriters like Dylan and Van Zandt to folk and jazz traditions from around the world. She says, “The spirituality I felt in music as a child is still there, but is far more mysterious and boundless, and simultaneously more grounded and rooted to contexts and histories. Spiritual jazz (specifically Alice Coltrane’s Journey in Satchidananda) has become hugely important to me for this reason.”

Eventually landing in Nashville, Turner fell in with the underground indie/experimental music scene, in part through Chris Davis’ (The Cherry Blossoms) FMRL presenting series, and in 2018, she started deejaying at Nashville’s freeform radio station with her program Shout, Sister Shout!, highlighting music by under-represented women throughout time and space. As a solo artist and with her band Styrofoam Winos, Turner has opened for the likes of Simon Joyner (who offered a blurb for the record), Kath Bloom, Xylouris White, Josephine Foster, and many others.

Songs for John Venn was written during 2017-19, a period in which Turner began her day job in a library and became further inspired by libraries as creative, communal spaces “where we each have a little space carved out for ourselves and all of our particular interpretations can coexist and breathe together.” She researched John Venn, credited with creating the diagram in classification, and discovered that he too had grown up in a religious household and served as a priest before deciding to become a mathematician. Feeling a kinship, the symbol became an anchor for her work during this time. She says, “the theme exists on this record in form as well as content, and the backing artists make up the form of my Venn diagram.”

Official Video for Lou Turner’s “Widening Venn Diagram” on “Songs for John Venn”

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