It all started when Jen Wood finally bought a piano. With a new marriage and a new home, the Seattle singer/songwriter, best known as the female voice on The Postal Service duet “Nothing Better,” finally decided to take the plunge and buy the instrument she’d wanted since childhood. The minute she sat behind this particular 1930s Whitney piano, she was hooked. “It had this magical, sparkling sound,” she says. “It’s a crazy kind of soul connection thing that happens.”
Once she got it home, the piano energized her creativity in a way she hadn’t experienced in years. She’d been writing songs on guitar for two decades, both as a solo artist and a member of riot grrrl duo Tattle Tale, but she was in a major songwriting rut. “[The piano] was a catalyst for change in my songwriting approach, and brought out a whole new voice in me.”
Songs began to flow, and Wood knew she’d soon have an album’s worth of material. To help fill them out, she recruited a drummer and asked her brother-in-law to add electronic elements. The resulting 10 tracks became Wilderness, a delicate and honest exploration of a woman wrestling with grown-up responsibilities.
“The last six years or so in my personal world have been so much about change, she says. “Change on an internal level, change in my personal life getting married, change in family dynamics. There’s also been a lot of sickness.” Ultimately, says the songwriter, the record was cathartic. “The joke is that music is free therapy for songwriters.”
Though Wood has no immediate plans to tour, she’ll be playing locally—and, for the first time, performing from behind a piano. “It’s been a little nerve-racking,” she admits, but so was playing KeyArena with The Postal Service last year. “It was mind-blowing,” she says. “I was on cloud nine.” Wilderness is out Oct. 14 via Radar Light (vinyl) and New Granada (CD).