Despite the fact that she didn’t move to Los Angeles until she was 20, there is something about Exene Cervenka that exemplifies the best LA has to offer. Co-founder of the band X, the leading light of the Hollywood punk scene of the late ‘70s, she has also been a primary figure in the local spoken word movement (she met John Doe, her X band-mate and eventual husband, at a poetry workshop in Venice), as well as an accomplished actress (she met her second husband, Viggo Mortensen, on the set of the film, “Salvation!”) and visual artist (with exhibitions at the Santa Monica Museum of Art and DCKT Contemporary in New York).
As a songwriter Cervenka covers much ground, whether in the gritty urban yowl of X, the high-lonesome country twang of her cow-punk project The Knitters, or in the more intimate, folk-inspired melodies of her solo records. Her latest solo album, The Excitement of Maybe, is a further exploration of sound, with contributions from collaborators familiar (The Blasters’ Dave Alvin) and new (jazz bassist Christian McBride).
Tracks like “I’ll Admit It Now” and “Half Past Forever” straddle the rock and country worlds quite comfortably, with nifty pedal steel guitar work from Danish player Maggie Bjorklund and horn arrangements from acclaimed arranger David Ralicke. The general theme of the album is that of love songs, and as the record’s title suggests, it is often the uncertain middle ground that proves most fertile for Cervenka. Gracefully maturing in years, having recently returned to Southern California after some time residing in the American heartland, not to mention dealing with a serious health situation, she has a unique perspective of what it is to be in the middle. We are lucky she has shared these thoughts in such a remarkably musical way.
-- Eric J. Lawrence, KCRW DJ and Music Librarian
The Excitement of Maybe will be available to stream on demand from February 28 through March 29, 2011. The album will be released on Tuesday, March 8, 2011.
From the Archives
Listen as Exene Cervenka joins Jason Bentley for a live session on Morning Becomes Eclectic, February 18, 2010.
Artist website: http://www.exenecervenka.net
1. Already In Love
2. Brand New Memory
3. Alone In Arizona
5. I Wish It Would Stop Raining
6. Turning With the World
7. Dirty Snow
8. Beyond You
9. Someday I'll Forget
10. Half Past Forever
11. I'll Admit It Now
12. Love and Haight