Jenny from Thebes
Fans of John Darnielle’s Mountain Goats project will surely be familiar with the title character of his new album, Jenny From Thebes. The woman first appeared on Darnielle’s now-classic 2002 LP All Hail West Texas, singing on the song “Jenny” that he and she “were the one thing in the galaxy God didn't have his eyes on.” Now Jenny takes on a new life with an entire album dedicated to her story. On Jenny From Thebes, Darnielle and his band—Peter Hughes, Matt Douglas and Jon Wurster—wanted to make an album almost opposite of All Hail, which was recorded by Darnielle directly into a boombox and with little more than an acoustic guitar. As such, opener “Clean Slate” shines with pulsing drums, polished piano chords and a chorus that swells with orchestral strings. “Jenny III”, which most directly continues the Jenny narrative, finds Darnielle examining his own history with the character, getting close to smashing through the fourth wall without ever getting there entirely. Atop shuffling hi-hats and a morose keys melody, he sings, “Jenny hit the corner clinic begging for relief/Never thought we’d see the day when she’d wiggle free, but she did, long before we did.” Jenny may have escaped, but Darnielle is still fascinated by one of his most enduring characters.