If Nashville singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jill Townsend could fulfill her dream of moving things with her mind, Fetching Pails’ debut Telekinesis for Beginners would have been created seemingly out of thin air. Rather, given the obvious impossibilities, her fingerprints cover it from top to bottom. After years spent in bands and one-off side projects, while simultaneously toiling away on home recordings in secret, Townsend brings forth Telekinesis, which documents her final stages of metamorphosis into a fully realized musician and producer born from a cocoon of her own making.
Longtime fans of local music will recognize Townsend’s presence in the local scene as far back as the late aughts Murfreesboro upstarts Bent Fur to acclaimed indie synth-pop ensemble Nightblonde. That, along with contributions to a handful of tribute bands and assembling the acclaimed Rocky Horror Rock ’n Roll Show, culminates into an eclectic journey and subsequent evolution that’s all the more overwhelming when brought front and center into her most personal and cohesive effort yet.
“Most of my time with music has been solitary, writing and recording demos at home others rarely get to hear,” recalls Townsend. “I used to bounce around the country more back in the day and would record demos in Garageband, singing and playing into the built-in mic of my Macbook, using whatever instrument was lying around. Some of those songs are on this album.”
Produced and recorded herself using largely techniques she learned online, Townsend played nearly every instrument on all twelve of the album’s tracks. Despite its piecemeal assemblage, pulling from roughly a decade of demos, time has given these songs room to simmer into a cohesively catchy and dreamily postmodern mixtape of alternapop nostalgia. Airy synthesizers backing whimsically singable hooks immediately call to mind the 80s-tinged undertones of Kate Bush’s theatrical vocals and Cocteau Twins’ intricate arrangements. Holographic guitar riffs float over crisp, frenetic grooves carrying the DNA of post-punk’s rhythmic recklessness on standouts like “Invisible Lassos,” “Dreamvox” and “Black.” Meanwhile, the driving drums of epic earworm burners like “Lemon Phosphate” and “Shearer” keep the record’s whimsical spirit grounded into solid and reliable song structures with introverted themes hinged on anxiety, insecurity and the everyday neuroses.
Even the vinyl release’s artwork—also created by Townsend—seals her self-described “control freak” process and reflects the album’s attention to detail, care for care’s sake, and a presentation that would likely be just as elaborate if, like the majority of her work, no one was intended to see it.