Photo credit: Linda Beecroft
Erika Wennerstrom shares her breathtakingly powerful video for “Extraordinary Love” via TIDAL, who calls it a “fittingly and gorgeously trippy video.” This new music video is a motion picture of the first single from Wennerstrom’s debut solo record, Sweet Unknown, out now on Partisan Records. Rolling Stone considers the record one of the best of the month, and placed it as an editor’s pick of “10 Albums to Stream Now,” alongside Jack White and Neil Young.
Video director Laura Wallgren, has done and continues to do amazing work with “True Detective,” “Jessica Jones,” “Nurse Jackie” and beyond. Illuminating her vision for bringing the song to life, Wallgren says,
“When Erika asked me to direct the video, I immediately thought of West Texas. We’ve taken many road trips out there together and the strangeness & vastness of the desert resonated with me and the message of the song. I wanted to share the distance that Erika has traveled within herself. She’s been on a long journey of the mind and heart, and I wanted the video to visually express her choice to open the door to the unknown, and how brave I think that is. This is her first solo album, and I wanted to represent that independence. And of course, I also just wanted to play in the dirt with my friends.”
The feelings of friendship and respect was mutual for Erika, who says,
“The prospect of working with Laura Wallgren was really exciting to me. She has been a great friend of mine for a long time now. She is always working on other directors projects, but I know she has such creative ideas of her own. We have taken a lot of trips out to west Texas together and have a real bond with our mutual love of that region and it’s landscape. Since I wrote quite a bit of the album out there, It felt like a very fitting location to shoot the video. We shot most of it in the Ghost town of Terlingua.”
The album, Sweet Unknown, debuted on Consequence of Sound, complete with a track-by-track description of each track. COS says, “positivity can be heard throughout the album’s nine tracks. Songs like the slow-burning, almost meditative “Be Good to Yourself” promote self-love, while “Like A Bird” advises that we “open up and let the good things come.”
First single to be released from the album, “Extraordinary Love,” debuted on Rolling Stone and established the core themes of the record. Rolling Stone writes, “After more than a decade fronting the Austin, Texas-based Heartless Bastards, Erika Wennerstrom needed a break. Not just from the band, but a spiritual break as well. Now, having spent the past couple years on a journey of self-exploration, she chronicles her discoveries on “Extraordinary Love.” Expanding on this in her own words, Wennerstrom says, “I was at a point where I was deeply unhappy, and on a whim, I decided to do an Ayahuasca retreat… Despite the idea frightening me, I felt I needed something to change within me so bad that I had nothing to lose. It really opened the door and started me on a path to many self realizations.”
Billboard premiered the album’s “driving, anthemic” second single, “Twisted Highway.” Describing the track, Wennerstrom says, “This song sort of sums up the whole album in a lot of ways,” says Wennerstrom. “‘Twisted Highway’ is the process of learning more self awareness and self acceptance. Writing songs over the years has forced me to do a lot of self-reflection, and I haven’t always liked what I see. I really needed to change my way of thinking though. I chose to focus on the negatives within myself. I really needed to stop and take a look at what’s good in my life. I have a lot of love in my life and I have had some truly beautiful experiences and opportunities. I was so focused on where I was going instead of appreciating where my life was. Going forward never stops. I don’t really have to propel myself. I need to smell the flowers, taste the food, and see the beauty around me.”
Sweet Unknown was produced by Danny Reisch in Lockhart, TX, and features contributions from My Morning Jacket’s Patrick Hallahan, Kelly Doyle, former Okkervill River member Lauren Gurgiolo, Heartless Bastards bassist Jesse Ebaugh and others. There’s something somewhat frightening, yet utterly liberating when leaving the confines of a successful band to venture solo – especially a band whose latest record was called “effortlessly brilliant” by critics. But, such is the case with Wennerstrom who is taking a break from her Austin-based rock band, Heartless Bastards, to deliver this solo debut.
On going solo, Wennerstrom reveals “it was a really freeing experience. I found my strength in my vulnerability as an artist, and really, just as a person. It kind of forced me to allow myself to be a little more exposed and stand on my own two feet.”
Sweet Unknown is still available now via all leading Digital Service Providers, and while supplies last, there is a limited edition version pressed on double white vinyl.
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