Artist Radar: Jensen McRae

Over the last year or so, there seems to be a resurgence of singer-songwriter and folk music in popular culture. The often melancholy storytelling is transportive, and the unpretentious arrangements allow space for the listener to fill with their own emotions or memories. Coupled with the pandemic, civil unrest, and extended periods of isolation, artists that identify within these genres have incredible material to work through. 

Enter Jensen McCrae, the 23 year old Los Angeles native, and a favorite artist of your favorite artist. Singer, songwriter, Virgo, poet, novelist… The list goes on for this incredibly talented wordsmith. According to McCrae, “I’m just super passionate about language, and I love telling stories through any medium I can”, and stories she indeed tells. Her music weaves issues of identity, race, gender, mental health and assault. Each song is poignant, powerful, and sometimes devastating. 

 

Wolves” falls under the last category. The first notes you hear are a rhythmic picking of a guitar that quickly captures the heart rate and every ounce of your attention. McCrae’s voice comes in like a wave, ebbing and flowing, painting a haunting story of assault and harassment. Her voice enigmatically holds sadness, vulnerability, strength, and hope. Choosing to create music like Jensen McCrae can’t be easy. It takes a lot to put oneself into these kinds of creative spaces, and open up these visceral aspects of humanity. Without artists like her however, the world misses out on opportunities to grow, learn, and empathize. 

 

Her most recent single, “Immune” was inspired by a now viral tweet. In it she wrote to one of her major influences, Phoebe Bridgers. The tweet imagines a post-pandemic world where two friends hook-up in the car line to get vaccinated. Just days later she gave us the hilariously real, and surprisingly profound “Immune”. The song feels like a throwback summer hit of the 2000’s but with authenticity and genuine emotion. It’s both serious and silly, filled with complexity and angst. It’s a full-on 2020 anthem. 

The tweet and song captured the attention of Bridgers, and we are all keeping our fingers crossed for a collaboration. Until then, keep an eye out for McCrae’s debut album, coming out later in 2021.

As always, be excellent to each other, and party on.

Editor’s Picks: “Wolves”, “The Plague”, “White Boy

- Written by Phillip Thompson

February 25, 2021