With the imminent release of his new album Naturale on January 13th via Earth Libraries, Joe Kenkel has taken this opportunity to become a more versatile songwriter. You can hear it in his new single “Sweeping,” for which he has just released the official music video, a light, free-spirited performance clip that features Kenkel, and a robot, peacefully taking in the outdoors on a beautiful day.
Recorded primarily at home over the course of 2019 and 2020, Naturale is a labour of love for Kenkel, who played almost all of the instruments on the entire album. He was joined by frequent collaborator Ross Collier (Katy Kirby, Bea Troxel) who co-produced the album, as well as recorded and mixed it. It’s a statement record for Kenkel, a firm assertion of his abilities as a solo artist since he is best known as a member of the Nashville-based band Styrofoam Winos.
Providing some context on the new song Kenkel tells us:
“‘Sweeping’ is one of five love songs on Naturale. It’s one of the oldest on the album. Originally, it was written and performed as an electric-heavy rock song. It found a new meaning with this nylon-led version, surrounded with electronic elements. Once Ross and I stumbled upon the feel of this song, we chased that direction for the remainder of the album.
“‘Sweeping’ is inspired by the mundane acts of kindness that we perform, without huffing and puffing, for those we care for. Acts of friendship and love don’t have to be some grand gesture. They are most often: sharing a meal, giving a ride to the airport, lending a book, sweeping the cat hair from the floor, etc…
“It’s an oddball love song inspired by small acts of kindness performed gladly for the ones you love. Love inserts itself into unconscious, mundane acts and can transform even household chores into deep expressions of affection. This expression can be felt in the repetition of the song’s chord progression and expansion of its atmospheric elements.”
Naturale sees Kenkel venturing off into new musical territory, as compared to his 2019 solo debut, Dream Creator. Naturale’s ten tracks are some of his most interesting, adventurous, and immersive compositions yet. Some songs such as “Sudden Returning” are more on the electronic side, while a song like “Like A Sweater Unsewn” is perhaps the most openly direct love song and ballad that Kenkel’s ever recorded. Impressively, Kenkel strings them all together in a cohesive fashion, thanks to his original and intuitive melodies, self-assured delivery, and the subtle textures that mesh together both electronic and acoustic instruments. There’s a comfort to Kenkel’s voice and his overall approach, and it’s that approach that makes it all feel so Naturale.
Naturale Track Listing:
1. Sick Day in Bed
2. Kick to the Head
4. Song of the Year
5. Like A Sweater Unsewn
6. Like A Fish
7. (All Wrapped Up in the) Cool Claws of Love
8. Sudden Returning
9. Natural State