Illinois musician Jared Bartman is a songwriter in every sense of the word. His music creates connections — the listener with music, memories with consequence, and rhythm with detailed composition. His songs draw on the traditions of American folk and blues, afro-Cuban culture, and the often intricate tendencies of orchestral shorthand, which is to say that his music sounds timeless and untraceable and seems to have been waiting for just the right time to show itself. Known for his often disparately staged live shows — he may swing from an acoustic solo performance one night to a stage full of strings, bass, and percussive accompaniment the next — Bartman never lingers too long on any one set of aesthetics before jumping to whatever next catches his attention. On his upcoming record, Misery Makes Strange Bedfellows (out November 19th), the versatile singer, who has shared the stage with artists like John Vanderslice and Richard Buckner, is set to cast an ever wider net documenting his love of bucolic lyricism and a roughspun sense of storytelling.
We recently sat down to talk with Bartman about some of the records which have had a large influence on his growth as a musician and lover of music. Albums like The Beatles’ Revolver and John Vanderslice’s Cellar Door seem like fairly obvious (though quite appropriate) indicators for how he approaches his own time in the studio. Other choices such as Arular by MIA and Bitte Orca from Dirty Projectors show the extent to which his widely varying influences push him to experiment with every day sounds and rhythms. To further highlight his chameleonic nature, he also brought along a new video for his song “The Cool Of Your Temple,” which shows the singer backed by a trio of female singers, winding his way through an all-too-brief live version of the song. Shot in stark black and white by Devin Vaughn, the video highlights the rustic nature of Bartman’s voice and the accompanying harmonies act as melodic anchors to his soaring voice. There is a curiously familial nature to the track which displays an innate understanding of how music can bridge age, time, and broken ties to bring people together. Check out the video for “The Cool Of Your Temple” below, as well as his choices for our latest On Deck feature even further down.
MIA – Arular
MIA dramatically shifted the world’s paradigm of a multi-cultural globalized modern music. Though the record came out in 2005, I still listen to “Galang” and “Bingo” close to once a day, and it certainly affected my writing on Misery Makes Strange Bedfellows.
The Beatles – Revolver
It’s hard to fathom the extent of influence that this record has had on literally millions of people. On a personal level, the music of the Beatles directly shaped me as a songwriter more than any other music. The variety between and quality of tracks like “Taxman”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “For No One”, and “Tomorrow Never Knows” will dictate the way I write records for the rest of my creative career.
Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
This record profoundly changed my perception of how a band could find a converging point between rock n’ roll, African music traditions, and 20th century classical sensibilities. There has a never been a band like this before, and there never will be again.
John Vanderslice – Cellar Door
I bought this record on a complete whim when it came out in 2004 and I was 16 years old. I dropped the needle on “Pale Horse” and the course of my musical life was dramatically changed. It’s one of the first records where the conceptual thread of the songwriting and production felt completely consistent to me. This record has been described by John as a love letter to classic film.
Jens Lekman – Night Fall Over Kortedala
Lekman is a consummate songwriter, storyteller, and orchestrator. Listen to “It Was a Strange Time In My Life” and remember your adolescence.
The Mountain Goats – Get Lonely
Producer Scott Solter, who engineered this record, Cellar Door, and my new record Misery Makes Strange Bedfellows, aptly described Get Lonely as a “root fire” of an album, burning quietly beneath the surface. Dedicated Mountain Goats fans are divided on either hating or loving the album, and I’m a fervent member of the latter camp. Get Lonely is a masterpiece.
Jared Bartman’s latest album, Misery Makes Strange Bedfellows, is due out on November 19th.