Editors’ Notes What began as an idea for a covers album helmed by producer Booker T. Jones morphed into a collection of original songs from The National vocalist Matt Berninger, his first solo project. "You forget that you were in your own straitjacket," Berninger tells Apple Music. "So by starting out with covers with Booker, I wanted to make a record like Stardust that he did with Willie Nelson. That's my dad's favorite record. And then over the course of a year, the covers turned into originals, and we recorded all in about 14 days." From the tense Americana featured in "Distant Axis" to the alt-country swing of "One More Second," Serpentine Prison seamlessly weaves Berninger's baritone prose across the record's wide-ranging influences, all under the careful direction of Jones' production. "I brought Booker in because of his genre-less expertise," explains Berninger. "Just being in the studio with him, he had a demeanor and a presence that was so just classy." The slower pace and open-ended arrangements allow Berninger's songwriting to explore different soundscapes, such as the leisurely Gail Ann Dorsey collaboration "Silver Springs," the somber "Oh Dearie," and the gentle title track that concludes the record. "I wasn't thinking about any other characters, I wasn't thinking about any other job, I wasn't thinking about even what the whole record was supposed to be doing," says Berninger. "All the songs were written with a bunch of different people, and so I was mostly just focusing only on things I needed to get out without any other purpose."

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