There’s a rare confidence to Emily Jane White’s songwriting: it’s at once generous and tough-minded, reflective and unsentimental. Her work shares some elements with folk music, but the term does not do justice to her ambitious songwriting and robust arrangements. White possesses a singular voice inspired by the raveled threads of the uncanny in American culture, including depression-era blues and classic works of gothic literature such as Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. Her indelible sound has earned White a devoted European following, prompting her to regularly tour France, Switzerland, Belgium, Poland, Austria and the Netherlands in recent years.
Raised in Fort Bragg, California, a seaside town nestled in the misty, secluded woodland of the Mendocino Coast, it could be said that optimistic melancholy and isolation don’t only suffuse White’s songwriting, but are in her bones. While attending the University of California, Santa Cruz, White researched gender studies and nurtured an acute social conscience. Her passion for social justice informs her songwriting, evidenced by her previous releases Dark Undercoat, which garnered raves from the likes of Spin and Rolling Stone, and Victorian America, which contended with the state of New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina. Ode to Sentience is equally engaged as White’s previous works, but delves deeper into the fundamental dynamics of injustice, achieving a sympathetic and universal investigation of the personal as political.