Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Jack & Amanda Palmer

JACK & AMANDA PALMER. (Courtesy Photo)
JACK & AMANDA PALMER. (Courtesy Photo)

Singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer and her father Jack Palmer, a semi-professional choral singer in the Washington, D.C. area, have spent more than a year working on an album called You Got Me Singing, which is set to be released on Friday, July 15. And a day after the album, a collection of covers, comes out, the Palmer father-daughter duo are playing their first show in a run of performances to support the album at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.

“I thought it would be really nice for him to do a hometown show and he’s really excited to be playing,” Amanda said. “And we did an iteration of this show in London about a month ago and it was just wonderful. I thought about doing one giant, banging album release show or a little tour and I opted for a little tour so that we could…spend time together and he could spend time with his grandchild.

“One thing I learned as a musician is that if you want to spend time with the people you love you have to incorporate them into what you’re doing or you have to take a lot of time off. So being able to do this creative project with my father and getting to spend some time with him on the road and to be able to take walks with him in Central Park with my child is sort of my version of modern multitasking where I can hold an instrument in one hand and my family in the other and not have to choose.”

While Amanda and Jack were recording this album, Amanda was pregnant with her first child, so the recording spans three generations of Palmers. She said that the experience of recording the album with her father, with whom she once had an estranged relationship, was “incredibly non-dramatic.”

“One of the reasons we picked such beautiful, simple songs was that I didn’t want to have any pressure in the studio,” she said. “So we only chose material that we knew we could knock out of the park in the studio so that we could spend time enjoying ourselves, which is not to say to it was easy – being in the studio is always work, but we picked songs that we love playing and that we knew that we would have fun recording.”

Amanda has covered songs prior to You Got Me Singing and in 2010 she released an EP of covers of Radiohead songs, but most of the songs she’s performed throughout her 16-year career have been originals. Aside from the Radiohead cover EP, this is the first time she has released a complete collection of covers.

“I been thinking a lot about why it was so important, about why covers matter,” she said. “The political scene in America right now that has been serving as a backdrop to my dad and I choosing the songs for and recording and mixing this record hasn’t been coincidental….You look at all of these songs and have to shake your head and say ‘Oh my gosh, nothing has changed’ and at the same time music can be the thread that reminds us where we’ve been and where we’re at.

“I think music and our reflecting the world around us is an essential part of being human and an essential part of what I want to hand down to my son.” Amanda noted the dedication in her husband Neil Gaiman’s new book The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction, a collection of his writing spanning most of his career, as another example of the importance of handing down their creative work to their son.

“In a sense, Neil and I are artists, we’re not going to stop producing, but there is this wonderful sense that whatever we’re producing now is going in a time capsule for our son when he’s older,” she said. “And there’s this sense of joy and responsibility that comes with that. These are letters to our future selves and our future son.”

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