On her eponymous new fourth album, whimsical Australian singer-songwriter Jen Cloher wasn’t afraid to dig deep, calling it “a very autobiographical record, a very honest account of my life over the past four years.” The track “Forgot Myself” recounts how it feels every time her wife, Melbourne musician Courtney Barnett, heads out tour, leaving her alone with their cat Bubbles. “You can actually kind of forget your own life when you’re in a long-distance relationship, or even one where you spend a lot of time away from your other half. It can be quite disconcerting,” she adds.
To record “Jen Cloher,” you retreated to the tiny Aussie town of Jumbunna, pop. 30?
Yeah. And Jumbunna is literally just a street. If you drove past it, you wouldn’t even see any stores there. But a friend of mine who does a lot of scoring for film and television has got a studio out there. He converted the old bakery there into a studio, and he found it’s a perfect way to take the band out of the city, away from all distractions where they can be someplace different.
How did you spend your off hours there?
We were very civilized. We rented a house that was really quiet, and it was a beautiful part of the country called Gippsland, all rolling green hills with the ocean nearby, about an hour and a half outside of Melbourne. So we’d go in and record during the day, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — very un-rock and roll — and then we’d go home and cook meals or play board games or cards, or even go for a swim at the beach. It was very relaxed. And we weren’t in the deep bush, nature-wise, but we had a lot of your icons, like kangaroos and wallabies, hopping around.
Did you write the album in Jumbunna, too?
No. The songs were already written, because I like to get in there and do a few live takes, then choose one and keep moving. So I need to have the songs written so I can approach recording in that way. But I think recording in that kind of space creates a lovely relaxation. And because we didn’t have any kind of phone reception, and we were spending our nights like you would on holiday, when we’d roll in to record, there was none of that studio pressure. Studios can really make you feel pressured and self-conscious, but I think you can hear on the record that it’s pretty loose. It’s like a live album, essentially. And I love music that sounds like that, like four people in a room just playing together.
IF YOU GO
Where: Café Du Nord, 2174 Market St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24
Tickets: $12 to $14
Contact: (415) 431-7578, www.eventbrite.com