Shop our Big Takeover store for back issues, t-shirts & CDs
Follow The Big Takeover
Lorenzo Wolff – Where the Valleys Are Low
Producer and multi-instrumentalist Lorenzo Wolff had embarks on an ambitious music project that reimagines the captivating music of the uniquely gifted, but tragically troubled singer-songwriter Judee Sill.
Spearheaded by Wolff, this project shines a fascinating new light on the songs of this revered pioneering ’70s artist. The album Down Where the Valleys Are Low is due out on March 12th via StorySound Records.
Wolff first encountered the beguiling music of Judee Sill back in 2010 on a playlist created by tour-mate Henry Wolfe during one of those long, typically dull, drives between gigs. He still recalls how the late, much lamented singer/songwriter’s music stood out to him.
Sill’s music stuck with Wolff over the years. He marvels at how her work evoked, “a strange, somewhat untrustworthy landscape of shadow figures.” His fascination with Sill’s music led him, in 2019, to begin to create a Sills tribute project.
Down Where the Valleys Are Low contains seven songs that are presented as bold interpretations of the original versions of Sills’ work. Wolff believes Sill’s vibrant, dramatic lyrical and musical language — which he describes as, “both psychedelic and medieval, like an illuminated manuscript annotated in Day-Glo” — could not only support a more robust, aggressive sonic palette, but actually asks for it.
To achieve this expansive approach, Wolff utilized different lead singers for each song, resulting in each track being distinctive, yet staying connected to the others. Wolff also feels like these reimagined renditions remain attuned to Sill’s vision._ “The more I learned about Sill, the clearer the chasm between the artist and her art became,”_ Wolff explains. “Her life was not only too short, but often nasty and brutish, while her music was pristine, elevated onto an altogether higher plane…”
Big Takeover is pleased to host the premiere of the intriguing title track, which is sung by South Carolina-originating, but Brooklyn-residing artist Mary-Elaine Jenkins. She moves back and forth between the roots music scene and the singer/songwriter circuit. Her latest album, Hold Still on Good Child Music, is out now and she’s in the process of writing her next.
Wolff relates, “This was the first song I finished for the record and was a thesis for me. Sill’s music has always felt like an incredibly careful, beautiful, fragile perspective on her surroundings. She presents an intricate music box world where the art is separate from her life. Even in this song, where she celebrates the beauty and comfort that you find in the lowest of places, the music still never really moves below the waist. You can feel that there’s something this person isn’t telling you musically, even though she’s saying it outright in her lyrics. I figured that if any song could clarify and magnify the celestial/earthbound dichotomy that Sill writes about, it was this one.”