Cassandra Jenkins' »An Overview on Phenomenal Nature« emerged from the blue in 2021. With pandemic unknowns and political upheaval leaving most at frayed ends, the New York-born musician’s assuring voice and expansive fresh take on songwriting created a much needed reflective space for listeners worldwide. Now, Jenkins revisits those flowing textures and refrains with a collection of previously unreleased sonic sketches, initial run-throughs, demos, and sound recordings from the cutting room floor that provided the scaffolding for what became one of this year’s most critically acclaimed albums.
When Jenkins visited Josh Kaufman’s studio this summer, they opened up their original sessions to uncover the ideas that were shed in the creative process. The new collection, (An Overview On) An Overview On Phenomenal Nature, isn’t merely a retrospective; it acts as a clear-eyed addendum as well as a compelling origin story, coming to life as a subconscious companion to the original album.
First takes of “New Bikini” and “Hailey” are born from opposite starting points; while “New Bikini” began as an airy alto meander, “Hailey”’s origins lie in an upbeat dance track. On “Crosshairs (Interlude),” Jenkins’ pitched vocal delivers a straight monotone, recasting the format as poetry with music highlighting her words, and “Ambiguous Norway (Instrumental)” lifts the ambient nature of the mournful song into glimmering waves. The demo version of “Michelangelo” contains alternate lyrics “I’m Michelangelo, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle,” a lost contrast to the later verse where Jenkins’ likens herself to the sculptor. On “Hard Drive (Security Guard),” we join Jenkins as she listens to a passionate museum guard whose promised “overview” of the exhibit on view builds into a monologue of observations on art, politics, feminism and the human condition. This candid interaction evolved into the cornerstone and title of Jenkins’ album.