Local musician and songwriter Jeff Thompson has been hard at work on So Far, So Strange, his new album. It represents personal and stylistic changes; it also marks some brilliant collaborations and daring risks. Thompson is a big personality with comedic leanings (find his “Shit New Age Guys Say” video on YouTube); but at the same time he delves into soul searching and poetry, sharing both through Facebook (and a recently published book of verse). The album, produced and engineered by Michael Hynes at Nomatic and Sound Temple studios, launches at Isis Restaurant & Music Hall on Friday, Dec. 5.
According to Thompson, So Far, So Strange came from “lots of hard-won meaning found through reflecting on going through challenging circumstances. How does one find joy, humor, depth, meaning and soul when life doesn’t go exactly as planned?” It also underscores Thompson’s own progress as an artist, from his singer-songwriter days to his current lush arrangements and rock prowess. The album ranges from the deep grooves and metaphysical meditations of “Improbable” to the expansive soul and hooky refrain of “Calling Back.” Then there’s “Waiting in the Water,” which has two versions — a potent, serpentine spoken-word offering and a fiery, swaggering rocker.
“I’ve always wanted to make music that comes from and appeals to the mind, the heart and the booty simultaneously,” Thompson says. “I think we’ve accomplished that quite well on this recording.”
The album release show promises both special guests and special requests — namely cover songs chosen by contributors to Thompson’s Kickstarter campaign. “It’s also possible the New Age Guy will make an appearance and play some songs,” the musician jokes. “I’ve put him on the guest list and I promised him he could borrow my guitar and my [didgeridoo].”
WHO: Jeff Thompson release for So Far, So Strange
WHERE: Isis Restaurant & Music Hall, isisasheville.com
WHEN: Friday, Dec. 5, 8:30 p.m. $12 advance/$15 day of show