Juliana Hatfield, intrepid indie pop/rock veteran, inimitable guitar goddess, singer, songwriter, and author, is set to release Speeches Delivered To Animals and Plants on August 30th on her own Ye Olde Records, which is distributed by Junketboy. Speeches… is a successfully-conceived album based loosely on the concept of failure. It was entirely fan-funded via www.pledgemusic.com, wherein individuals pledged varying amounts in advance of the album’s completion for different returns including Hatfield memorabilia, a guitar used on the recording of the new album, original Hatfield artwork, song workbooks, demos, and more. PledgeMusic gives artists the option to build a charitable donation into their campaigns; Juliana will be donating a percentage of the funds raised to two of her favorite charities, the Save a Sato animal shelter in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, Massachusetts.
Hatfield says, “I really think that PledgeMusic and similar sites are the future of music, especially for people like me who have devoted cultish fanbases but who have never sold a ton of records and don’t really fit in anywhere at major labels. Working with this new model, you go straight to the fans, who become your patrons, in a very direct and vital way. They have a special kind of access to you in a way that makes them happy – they see the progress of the album-making in real time with the video and audio updates I post at the PledgeMusic site. And I have total ownership of the music at all stages, present and future. I love working like this.”
Speeches… is the follow up to last year’s Peace and Love, which Paste Magazine hailed for its “fearless honesty” while SPIN extolled its “affirmations turned narratives that are sharpened rather than softened by their harmonies.” Working at Q Division Studios in Somerville, Massachusetts, Hatfield produced and played all the six-string guitars and keyboards on the new album. Ed Valuaskas played bass and Pete Caldes played drums. (See below for track listing.) The 13 songs feature Hatfield’s distinctive but typically underrated guitar stylings-highly emotive but not overly slick, and resonating with a range of human emotions from joy to despondence to goofiness to resignation.
What’s with the title? “I think that when people get to the presumed halfway point in their lives, they inevitably look back and assess what they have or have not accomplished. There is an acceptance of one’s limitations, a scaling back of goals, a settling into the way things are,” observes Hatfield. “I think I have always had a pretty measured perspective-I am always grateful for all the good opportunities I’ve had but at the same time I’m never really content. I always want to do more, to be better-a better singer, performer, writer, person, friend, sister, daughter, etc. I don’t shy away from the dark stuff -without the darkness there would be no light.”
Hatfield first came to prominence in her teens as a founding member of the Blake Babies. After four independent albums with the group, she signed to Atlantic as a solo artist and had a string of modern-rock hits (including “My Sister,” “Spin The Bottle” and “Universal Heartbeat”). She left the label in 1998, signing to Zoe Records (a Rounder Records imprint) and releasing four well-regarded albums, including 2004’s In Exile Deo, named as one of that year’s 10 best albums by The New York Times’ Jon Pareles. In 2005, Hatfield came full circle, returning to her independent roots and founding Ye Olde Records. Her autobiography, When I Grow Up, was published by Wiley & Sons in 2008.
“I’ve gotten to a place where I am really proud of the large body of work that I have produced, regardless of how my work is or is not received, or how many records I’ve sold,” she reflects. “I know my weaknesses but I also know that I have gifts and I’ve made the most of them with this new album.”
The track listing for Speeches Delivered To Animals and Plants is as follows:
1. Stray Kids
4. Sex and Drugs
6. Someone Else’s Problem
7. Change The World
9. Don’t Wanna Dance
10.There’s Always Another Girl
12.Thousands Of Guitars