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Song Premiere: "Interloper" by Gretchen's Wheel

Gretchen's Wheel
1 September 2020

Lindsay Murray of Gretchen’s Wheel – Photo Credit: Johnny Murray

Lindsay Murray has a voice that turned heads when the Tennessee-born-and-raised musician, recording as Gretchen’s Wheel, suddenly appeared on the indie radar with 2015’s Fragile State, produced by Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, Big Star). Three more records quickly followed (Behind the Curtain, 2016; Sad Scientist, 2017; Black Box Theory, 2018).

Murray will soon be releasing her next album, such open sky, which arrives on October 2nd via Futureman Records and is available to pre-order on Bandcamp now (vinyl, CD and digital).

And while Gretchen’s Wheel is so much more than that voice, Murray brings so much precision and power to every note that everything else seems to fall away.

While four albums in four years would find most artists scraping the bottom of the songwriting barrel, Gretchen’s Wheel grew steadily throughout. After a quick “break” to record the well-received Moth to Lamplight: A Tribute to Nada Surf, Lindsay set about recording the songs that would become such open sky.

While the pandemic stalled production, it also freed up a team of power-pop all-stars to lend a hand: most of Nada Surf showd up (Ira Elliot splits drum duties with frequent GW collaborator Nick Bertling, keyboardist Louie Lino appears on several songs, and frontman Matthew Caws lends background vocals to lead-off track “You Should Know”).

If previous LP Black Box Theory added to Lindsay Murray’s songwriting toolbox, such open sky expands Gretchen’s Wheel’s scope. Rhythms push and pull, and melodies take welcome, unexpected turns as verses break wide open. Those shifts allow Murray to both nod toward loss and doubt (there’s at least one dark moment in every one of these songs) and inject a note of hope – fitting for an album recorded alone at home, much of which took place during the uncertain first weeks of a global pandemic.

And throughout, of course ­– of course – there’s the voice..

Big Takeover is pleased to host the premiere of “Interloper,” a, yes, loping track that fleetly moves forward with Murray’s graceful, musing vocals, simmering guitar lines, supple bass push, twisting keyboard notes, kinetic drumming, and bright cymbals crash. The song features a pair of pop icons in Posies co-founder Jon Auer, who mixed, and Brendan Benson, whose inimitable vocals anchor the call-and-response chorus.

Murray reveals, “I wrote “Interloper” from the point of view of a semi-reliable narrator who feels like an inept outsider and whose extreme personality swings (bold/timid, confident/insecure) make navigating life extra challenging. The “narrator” of my songs is usually myself, but in this case it’s more of a fictional protagonist with some of my characteristics – greatly exaggerated!”

“What an honor and thrill to get to bring together three of my favorite musicians in the world for this song! Ira did an excellent job with drums on this and every song he played. He also had the idea of adding handclaps, which I thought was brilliant. And I have Jon to thank not only for the outstanding mix but also bringing Brendan on board to do backing vocals. His vocals are such a perfect fit, in my opinion it sounds like it could be his own song, and I love that! I didn’t write any specific backing vocal parts – Brendan came up with everything, and it just blew me away.”

Lindsay Murray: vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
Brendan Benson: backing vocals
Ira Elliot: drums, handclaps
Mixed by Jon Auer

Gretchen’s Wheel · interloper