by Yasmine Shemesh
Jennifer Hershman is right on the cusp of releasing Never Ever Wanna, her third album and first since 2011. So, what has the Vancouver-based singer-songwriter been up to over the last four years? Along with taking dance classes at Simon Fraser University, playing shows in Los Angeles, and teaching music to children at local community centres (just to name a few things), she laughs, adding, “Well, I am a mom, so that takes a lot of time and my energy up!”
Family, in general, is an important concept for Hershman and something expressed in particular on Never Ever Wanna, from musical influences to lyrical content.
Her parents split when she was about seven, but remained a tightly knit unit—two happy households that exposed Hershman to a lot of music from a wide range of genres. “One of my very first 45s was Paul Simon, ‘Slip Slidin’ Away,’” she says. “When I say we listened to a lot of music, we listened to a lot of music LOUD. My mom threw a lot of parties, and her and her partner, we’d listen to everything from Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, to ZZ Top, Waylon Jennings. And then I’d go and spend the weekends, me and my sister, with my dad and we’d listen to a lot of music over there, too. He still has a huge vinyl collection. We listened to a lot of Motown stuff at his place.”
Recalling the sounds of her youth, Hershman blends the pop, soul, and classic rock she grew up with on Never Ever Wanna. Her voice, pretty and melodic, has a Linda Ronstadt likeness to it that sweetly coats folksy guitar strums and splashy percussion.
Like she does with her music, Hershman connects her past and her present within the record’s narrative, as well. The strong bond she feels with her family is weaved throughout the lyrics from start to finish, especially on “Keep Each Other Alive,” the album opener, and “I Know Why,” the closer. It seems only natural that the tribute would serve as the beginning and end of the story told here, further making even more sense in the circle of life that “Keep Each Other Alive” is about her parents and “I Know Why” about her own child.
“Even though they’re not together as a couple anymore, they get a long magically as friends, and both of them are just—we just sort of keep each other, we really look after each other, I guess,” Hershman says, of her mother and father. “I mean, hopefully that’s what family does anyway, but I guess I just wanted to just tell a little story about their love and the bud of their love and how that transcends, still, through all of us, and even though they’re not together, we’re all still benefitting from that love that had created us and the connection that we all have to watch each other’s backs.”
“[On] “I Know Why,” we talk a little bit about my daughter,” she continues. “Sort of like, just go and run and play and have your fun, but always come back to me. Just thinking in the years ahead, whatever might happen, go do your thing, but I’m always going to be here. So please, don’t worry, come on back.”
Jennifer Hershman’s new EP, Never Ever Wanna, will be released on February 17, 2015. Celebrate with the singer at the album release party on the same night at Electric Owl and receive a copy of the EP with entry.