Autonomy: (noun; Independence or freedom, as of the will or one’s actions) – an appropriate name for Jen Hingley’s most recent and entirely self-produced and self-recorded album. Hailing from Manchester, UK, Hingley has her hands in many artistic projects ranging from print and web layout design to photography and film. It would seem that this poly-artistic approach to creation has given Hingley the ability to fully grasp a conceptual idea from different artistic perspectives and communicate it effectively through her music.
Along with songs titled “There’s No One Left” and “Solo”, you get the sensation that it is as much about the process of working by yourself as it is a product of working by yourself. You can feel the amount control, intimacy and dedication poured into releasing an album entirely on one’s own.
The album starts off with “It’s In Your Eyes”. Setting the pace of the album nicely, you get to hear the fuzzy, distorted and, at times, abrasive guitars and bass as well as hearing the multi-instrumental abilities of Hingley behind each instrument. The sound and production pay homage to grunge, lo-fi, and garage bands of decades past, letting the rawness of the instruments scratch away at the inside of your skull. The lyrics are tinged with loneliness and loss. However, by the song “Solo” Hingley seems triumphant in this solitude, using it as fuel.
By the next song, Hingley starts to explore more sharp, abrasive sounds and rhythms. The lyrics, for the most part are punchy, beating in time with the rhythms of the songs. Occasionally, we hear lyrical vocal melodies and harmonies that retain their edginess but allow for different musical dynamics. Songs like “Frozen Again” combine the lyrical vocals with the harsher sounds of the guitars and bass presenting a nice range of sounds. The album ends with “Drifter”, a song that has the same pace as the first song on the album, giving the album a holistic sense of closure.
Solo projects are always a challenge to effectively capture, especially when they require different instruments. It does, however, allow the creator complete control and listening to faint hisses hum of feedback and distortion in the songs, you can tell she has an eye and ear for detail. This album stands as a solid piece of work and a testament to the capabilities of individual artists who aspire to create something with their own two hands.