CountryTown is proud to announce New Zealand alt-country singer songwriter, Jenny Mitchell as our Artist of the Week!
CountryTown is proud to announce New Zealand alt-country singer songwriter, Jenny Mitchell as our Artist of the Week, following the release of her new single, Snakes In The Grass.
Jenny grew up surrounded by music and was encouraged by her dad, Ron, as were her sisters, to start singing at a young age. Jenny made her stage debut at four with her dad at the local country music club in Gore in New Zealand’s south. Her father and sisters, Nichola and Maegan, recorded an EP titled The Grainstore Sessions (Live), and they took it on tour around New Zealand.
She also began songwriting and realised at 13 years old that she wanted to be a singer-songwriter professionally. At 14, Jenny placed third in national TV show New Zealand’s Got Talent, a formative experience which taught her how to stand up for herself and to believe in the songs she was writing. It also led to the release of her 2015 debut album, The Old Oak.
The first records she owned included The McClymonts and Shane Nicholson – as her parents would bring home new music from trips to the Tamworth Country Music Festival each year – but she also grew up listening to The Chicks, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and a lot of other American country music. These days, she’s inspired by writers like Gregory Alan Isakov, Jason Isbell, and Lucie Silvas – anyone who sits on the edge of country, she states.
She specialised in Gender Studies in her Bachelor of Arts degree, studying the struggles of women dealing with sexism, writing about artists who inspired her like New Zealand songwriter, Tami Neilson. Neilson produced Mitchell’s 2021 single Trouble Finds a Girl, a powerful and timely song about sexual misconduct in the music industry.
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Her 2018 record Wildfires, produced by Matt Fell, was awarded the 2019 Tui for ‘Recorded Music NZ Best Country Music Artist’, and became the first New Zealand album to receive a nomination for ‘Alt-Country Album of the Year’ at the 2020 Australian Golden Guitar Awards.
Jenny has graced dozens of festival stages including Australia’s Maldon Folk Festival, Nannup Festival and, of course, the Tamworth Country Music Festival. At home in NZ, she’s been on the Canterbury and Wellington Folk Festival bill and was a guest on the 2019 Southern Fork Americana Fest line-up.
Her latest single, Snakes In The Grass, is the fourth single lifted from her forthcoming album, Tug Of War – out July 22. Exhibiting a darker, Americana sound, it’s described by Jenny as a “love-warning” tune and features her sisters Maegan and Nicola on backing vocals, with Australian country music legend Rod McCormack on banjo and Michael Muchow on electric guitar.
Jenny explains, “Lyrically, it’s quite a direct song of warning. The line 'I told my mother’s mother and she told her too,' was one of the first ideas when I was writing it. I was thinking about how we have all the wisdom in the world to avoid falling for people that clearly aren’t willing to give as much as us, but we do it anyway! I suppose it’s something that you have to learn on your own, but this song is essentially my warnings/wisdom about such things.”
The demo was recorded in her bedroom before she worked on it remotely with her Sydney based producer, Matt Fell. Jenny eventually recorded the final tracks at Loho Studios, Christchurch.
She adds, “This song was actually written as part of a Songclub run by Sam Hawksley. Each week, Sam sends out a prompt to a group of songwriters and we each have to write a song inspired by it and submit a recording of it within the week. It was deadline day, almost midnight, and I had to whip something up. Sometimes the best songs fall out at those moments when you’re just being creative for fun and with a time limit and this one stuck with me.”
Keep up to date with Jenny Mitchell on her Facebook page here.