The first release in The Social Regsistry’s new Social Club singles subscription is from actress Jena Malone, who has sustained her career with low-key roles in off-beat films like Donnie Darko, The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys, and Saved! With such an innocent, almost child-like onscreen presence, it’s hard to imagine she’d create music anywhere near this strange.
Jena Malone and Her Bloodstains’ first release is rooted in dark, experimental folk. The acoustic backdrop is clean and meandering on “Tested Dry.” Her voice moves from a pixie-ish whisper to a mysterious warble, while her melodies obstusely follow tangential paths away from the music. It’s very unassuming and un-showy.
She’s backed by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s Russell Simins, Chris Maxwell of Skeleton Key, Adam Crystal of Dopo Yume, and Louis Schwadron.
The fragile folk of “Greeneyed Monster” is equally pensive and personal, albeit rough-hewn and loose. Her stated influences of Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, and Townes Van Zandt have little audible affect on her writing, as her tunes tend to wander aimlessly. There’s little adherence to traditional structures. No choruses to speak of, yet there’s something exciting and charming listening to Malone feel her way around.