Jenson said of the track, “I think ‘Wake Up’ is a bit of an outlier on the record. While it’s still rock and roll, it’s maybe a little less Americana than the rest of the album. I wanted it to be the track we opened up and got a little weird on. It has all the necessary weird ingredients: a backward guitar track that opens the song, vocals tracked through a tape echo, and your standard rock and roll bass solo.”
Described previously as a side-man guitarist in the Richmond music scene, Jenson’s present vibe mixes up early Wilco with more than a hint of The Wallflowers. Odessa features contributions from Cameron Ralston and Suzi Fischer (both with Foxygen) and Andrew Randazzo (Natalie Prass).
How did Jenson achieve the alternative sound he was aiming for on the track? “I told the band to think about the first record from Weezer when we were tracking. Not that I was thinking of Weezer when I wrote the song, but I wanted it to have that kind of drudgey push to it in the rhythm section that is part of the magic on that record.
“The song features just the core trio with Andrew Randazzo on bass and Dusty Simmons on drums. Andrew and I overdubbed the keyboard parts and I added some guitars to beef it up. There are moments though when the track strips down to just the original guitar trio. I wanted it to have some life in it, to kind of breathe and I told Adrian Olson, who I mixed the record with, to have some fun on this track and get a little weird.”
Speaking to the subject of the album in full, Jenson said of Odessa: “I wrote a lot of these songs thinking about characters…It always ends up including a part of me—you can’t get away from that—but if you’re only telling your own story, you’re kind of pigeonholing yourself.”
On the album’s title track, Jenson imagines himself a soldier returning from war to a small-town home that doesn’t quite fit the one in his memory.
The album also features a cover version of Modern English’s 1980s-era hit “I Melt With You,” which has been heavily transformed, and for a specific reason. “I hated that song growing up,” Jenson admitted. But after performing a version at a wedding, he was apparently taken by the song’s intentions if not its presentation.
Thorp Jenson’s Odessa is expected to bow in October on various digital music platforms.