Jeremy Jensen has been making music as the band The Very Most for almost 20 years. He’s also worked in other bands and projects, but he’s always kept busy in the studio. Now, he’s set to release a new album out called Needs Help that, with a bunch of additional singers from the Treasure Valley and around the world, has brought his sound out of its usual register.
“What happened is that I always lay down the instrumentals first and the recordings ended up being in keys I couldn’t sing in,” said Jensen. ”So I though here’s an opportunity to reach out and have some great vocalists I know sing for me.”
The Very Most is a Boise based indie-pop group and Jensen writes and records everything in the studio and then tours with different musicians. Since 2003 the band has made music and touring both nationally and internationally. Needs Help is the band’s first new album since 2014, it has 12 songs and releases on Friday, Oct. 9. It’s also available for pre-order on the band’s website where people can also watch a musical trailer.
A Canadian label called Lost Sound Tapes, as well as a Spanish label, Kocliko Records, will release the album. Jensen said he entitled the record Needs Help because it reflects that he needed extra vocalists’ help in completing the album, and also because of the expression, “that guy needs help.”
“Some of it’s about my internal struggles with working on self-care,” said Jensen. “All the songs were written around the same time and also have a lot to do with my struggles and insecurities as a parent or how we fret about the future. There’s also a song when I’m talking to my future self.”
Jensen even got his daughter and her friend on the album playing clarinet and flute. He said this album is a bit different from previous releases because in the past they’ve had more of an orchestral input. There’s also a lot of ukulele on the tracks. Jensen plays and records everything himself in the studio.
The cool thing about The Very Most as with a lot of indie-pop, is that the music is light and rather uplifting sounding but it’s coupled with lyrics that are oftentimes a lot deeper and that was a sentiment echoed by some of the singers on the album.
Jenson was able to recruit an impressive list of guest singers, including Melanie Whittle from the Scottish band The Hermit Crabs; Kristine Capua from Tiny Fireflies out of Portland, Oregon; solo artist Cristina Quesada of Paris; Gerri White from Sacramento, California-based Arts & Leisure; Sally Jati from Starry Eyed Cadet in San Francisco; Sarah Lowenbot from Thee Ahs in Vancouver, Canada; Ashley Eriksson and Eli Moore from Washington State-based Lake; California-based Adam and Darcie; and Gia Trotter from Mostly Muff and 12x2 in Boise.
Trotter and Jensen have played together on projects for many years and she said she might be the longest-standing singer in his revolving door of vocalists.
“[Jensen’s] songwriting style is amazing and I don’t think people give him enough credit,” said Trotter. “He’s not only prolific, but his lyrics are really complex and provide a complete tapestry.”
She said musically she’s drawn to his lyrics, which she finds highly relatable, very accessible and smart. “This might be my favorite album of his: He really dove deep.”
So many pop songs are written about romantic love or other obvious clichés and the album is a refreshing listen of songs that aren’t about those things. Whittle, from The Hermit Crabs, met Jensen in 2009 on MySpace and they’ve worked on many projects together, including when the band played New York City and had Jensen and his drummer play with the band. She sang on the song “The Thing You Like About Yourself (Is Hurting You)” and wrote it continues to be a pleasure to work with Jensen.
“I definitely think this release of his has a lot of soul searching in it,” wrote Whittle in an email. “It tells you a little bit more about him as a person. I think that’s the beauty of indie-pop- it’s sunny and jangly sounding but the lyrics can deal with quite dark subjects.”
Lyrics from “The Thing You Like About Yourself (Is Hurting You)”
Always trying harder.
All your organs will fail, and
You’ll never know why.
The album will be available on all streaming platforms and on CD and cassette.