Whether it comes from that hot buzz in the air or the generations of people that have called it home, the South has a sound and history that runs deeper than most anywhere else in the country.
Singer-songwriter Mary-Elaine Jenkins is as much a part of this lineage as anyone, as a 13th-generation South Carolinian. In other words, her family has inhabited a very distinct sliver of the US for a long long time, and somewhere along the line, a performative streak appeared; Jenkins’ maternal grandmother was a classically-trained soprano while her paternal grandmother was an actress. With no shortage of matriarchal inspiration, Jenkins has unapologetically taken up the torch and embarked on a musical journey that combines the raw grit of her home state with more modern nuances. From slow and smoky to raucous playfulness, Jenkins embodies the full spectrum of emotion on her debut album, Hold Still. Because it is so distinctly of a place, her music acts as an immediate window into both her personal journey and something much bigger. Jenkins says,
“When I started working on this record over two years ago with producer/engineer Thom Beemer, I envisioned it being a patchwork of cool elements….my friends playing on it, songs I had carried for years, production references that were meaningful to Thom and me, various unusual or oddball bits — because that’s the kind of thing I’m into. I wanted it to be visceral, intimate, and immediate. It came together in the most remarkable way. Every piece has a tale to tell.”
Hold Still is out September 28. Listen to the full album below: