By Davis Blount
The Queen of Cups is a depiction of a woman on a throne by the seashore. In her hands she holds a closed cup and stares pensively at the goblet she clasps. In tarot readings, the Queen of Cups can mean two things: Face up, it is a sign of deep emotional understanding. The Queen of Cups is kind, compassionate, and particularly sensitive to one’s feelings. Face down, however, the Queen of Cups symbolizes one who may be out of touch with their feelings or closed off. It typifies a fear to share one’s innermost thoughts and feelings.
So it goes with Officer Jenny’s new album, titled ~*QUEEN OF CUPS*~. From the opening song, “Father Doted Over Me,” to the album’s instrumental-heavy conclusion, this is an album of quiet introspection and unflinching honesty. The question left for the audience to answer is: Is the so-called “Queen of Cups” facing up or down?
In Officer Jenny’s latest offering, sprawling brass soundscapes echo as solo acoustic guitar and banjo quietly keep the melody and set the stage for the well crafted and thought-provoking lyrics. From start to finish, the songs come as a kiss on the forehead to those in need of validation or empathy. As listeners undergo the experience that ~*QUEEN OF CUPS*~ has to offer, a sonic catharsis waits to greet them. Officer Jenny has the distinct ability of making the grotesque strangely beautiful.
“Father Doted Over Me” deals with the problems of a dysfunctional parent-child relationship. If there is anything to be gleaned from this song, we believe it is that problems are always more complex than we may like them to be. In the opening lyrics, Officer Jenny croons:
Father doted over me
With a branch in hand from the Birchwood tree.
He turned my eyes black and blue then he
Said I love you child,
But my love’s not free.
One of the main themes of ~*QUEEN OF CUPS*~ is finding one’s identity, be it sexual, religious, or otherwise. Officer Jenny does not seem to take a hard stance on any one way of living, but rather voices the confusion that many people have at the numerous choices and subsequent fallout from those decisions. Though the album has a distinctly sullen tone, the album is a hopeful one yet. A particularly poignant line comes from “The Bockscar Children”:
I built with springs and these duct-tape tin can wings
Woke among crows in my finest Sunday clothes.
This album marks a slight departure from what listeners may be used to with Officer Jenny. In previous recordings, we heard a very flippant and irreverent tone permeate the recordings of Officer Jenny. In this album, however, a more somber tone dominates the album. For anyone looking for a good start to their day (or a better start to the rest of their lives, for that matter), look no further than ~*QUEEN OF CUPS*~, an album certain to keep one’s emotions close to the surface.
You can pick up ~*QUEEN OF CUPS*~ and additional merchandise at officerjenny.com. Listen to “Father Doted Over Me” below.