The new folksy Exene

It’s taken Exene Cervenka nearly two decades to release her third solo set, “Somewhere Gone.”

She has been rather busy.

First, Cervenka has her collage artwork, recently featured in “Celestial Ash” in Los Angeles. She also has scruffy side projects, such as Auntie Christ and the Original Sinners, not to mention spoken-word performances and poetry books.

“If I want to make some country rock, I’ve got the Knitters for that, and if I want to play punk rock with Billy Zoom — the best guitarist in the world — I’ve got my group X for that,” says the singer, who plays Slim’s on Sunday.

“But now I’ve realized that I don’t need another rock band, and I should’ve been doing this all along with my solo stuff.”

By “this,” Cervenka means to the album’s sparse folk arrangements and starkly evocative lyrics. Aided by chums like Joe Terry, Dex Romweber, Cindy Wasserman and the late Amy Farris — featured on the haunting traditional, “The Willow Tree” — she arrived at a subdued and definitive new style.

“So this is what I want to do from now on, and I’m pretty set in my ways,” Cervenka says. “I’ve got about 20 new songs that are in this same vein, and I’m really happy with that.”

Staying upbeat has been crucial. In April, as X was embarking on a Sweet Relief charity tour to fight multiple sclerosis, Cervenka herself was diagnosed with the disease.

Overnight, she began seeing a specialist in her native Los Angeles, switched her diet to vegetarian and started taking a medication that helps prevent flare-ups.

“So I’m relatively symptom-free,” Cervenka says. “And I think being as happy as possible is working. Making art and playing music with my friends is what’s keeping me healthy.”

But it’s a precarious state. Currently insured through the Screen Actors Guild, she’s almost earned the amount required to maintain coverage through two songs she just contributed to the “Smokin’ Aces 2” soundtrack — punk send-ups of the Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb” and Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz.” Almost.

“So all I need is a walk-on part in some movie and I’ll be fine,” Cervenka says, fingers crossed. “But that’s how insurance works in our society right now.”

At 53, she has a fresh take on her X-etc. legacy. “I’ve already accomplished a lot of what I set out to do,” she says. “But what’s more important to me is that I can keep going. I can do more.”

 

Exene Cervenka

Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $15

Contact: www.slimstickets.com

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