Lou Turner - Songs for John Venn CS (Spinster Sounds, 2020)
Professionally dubbed FerroMaster C456TM cassette tape / limited edition of 200.
"In the prose poem she reads over the hymn “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” Lou Turner (Styrofoam Winos) confides to painter and musician Peggy Snow of Nashville’s resident weirdo folk collective, The Cherry Blossoms, “I am always thinking of Venn Diagrams.” The visual of overlapping circles weaves across Turner’s brilliant sophomore album, Songs for John Venn, in the relationships between the spiritually transcendent and secular mundane, the solitary practice of songwriting and the communal experience of music making, traditional melodic song forms and experimental improvisation, and in two eggs frying in a skillet. Though rooted in lo-fi sensibilities, Songs for John Venn is clean and bright and warm, with a loose yet intentional communal folk rock backing band composed of members of Styrofoam Winos and other Nashville musicians, guests Ziona Riley (vocals on “Widening Venn Diagram”), Dan Melchior (guitar on “Measuring Tape,” album art), and Turner herself, who contributes guitar, percussion, mandolin, bass, and the most transcendent flute. Turner’s voice matches her songwriting—generous and inviting, even sweet at times—think Ruth Garbus, Dory Previn, or Bridget St. John (whose Songs for a Gentle Man inspired this album’s name). But there’s a poetic wryness too, sometimes with a spoken delivery at the end of phrases, reminiscent of Dave Berman or Bill Callahan or Patti Smith.
Lou Turner (aka Lauren Turner) grew up in Texas, playing music in school and at church. She remembers hearing her mother harmonizing along with everything—from commercials, to songs on the radio, to religious hymns. Her listening quickly expanded in high school and college from singer-songwriters like Dylan and Van Zandt to folk and jazz traditions from around the world. She says, “The spirituality I felt in music as a child is still there, but is far more mysterious and boundless, and simultaneously more grounded and rooted to contexts and histories. Spiritual jazz (specifically Alice Coltrane’s Journey in Satchidananda) has become hugely important to me for this reason.” Eventually landing in Nashville, Turner fell in with the underground indie/experimental music scene, in part through Chris Davis’ (The Cherry Blossoms) FMRL presenting series, and in 2018, she started deejaying at Nashville’s freeform radio station with her program Shout, Sister Shout!, highlighting music by under-represented women throughout time and space. As a solo artist and with her band Styrofoam Winos, Turner has opened for the likes of Simon Joyner (who offered a blurb for the record), Kath Bloom, Xylouris White, Josephine Foster, and many others." - Spinster Sounds
"Lou Turner is a breath of fresh air, writing songs which sound like only she sounds. She evokes breezy 70's am radio confessionals, traditional folk and country worship, Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter meditations and DIY home-taper zeal and distills it all into her own song cycle." - Simon Joyner