In September, singer-songwriter Judy Blank will make history by becoming the first Dutch artist ever to play AmericanaFest. In 2014 she released her piano-driven debut album, When The Storm Hits, which earned rave reviews and quickly positioned her as an international artist to watch. Since then, she’s been making a name for herself playing all over the world, from surf festivals somewhere in the south of France to open mic nights in Louisiana, to performances at major music festivals including Pinkpop, the Lowlands, Songbird Festival and North Sea Jazz in Rotterdam.
After finishing her debut album tour in the Netherlands, Blank felt like she was no longer really connected to the songs or her sound. Or maybe even herself. She had lost the ambition she once had to tell stories and write songs. She decided to visit the states and immerse herself in a new culture. She ended up in Louisiana for a time, and interned in a music class at an elementary school. It was here where she was introduced to American folk music.
“I was inspired by the gorgeous folk songs that were passed on from generation to generation. I fell in love with the simplicity of the songs, the honesty in the words and the catchy melodies. It was the start of a dazzling musical journey where I started to listen to all the old folk and country records I could find. Slowly, I came back to writing, and when I finally felt I had collected my best songs two years later, I figured the best place to record them was Nashville.”
After she cultivated the songs for her most recent LP Morning Sun, she partnered with Chris Taylor (Elle King, Miranda Lambert, The Wood Brothers) to produce the album at Southern Ground Studios in Nashville.
“When I met Chris for the first time, we were a great match right away. Beforehand, I was slightly intimidated by all the fantastic artists he had worked with. But he turned out to be a super relaxed, dedicated and funny guy. He loved the demos, and went out of his way to get in the best musicians he could find to add color and flavor to my songs. We decided to track everything live, just like all my newly discovered heroes did in the seventies. When I listened back to the first take we did the band, I literally cried, because it sounded so beautiful and organic. I hadn’t felt that in forever. After that, I could record the rest of the songs feeling 100% comfortable and confident about the result. We were creating in there, considering every idea me, Chris or the musicians came up with. Recording this album was so much fun.”
Morning Sun allowed Blank to make her mark on Americana by mixing elements of retro soul, groovy funk and edgy indie-rock with irresistible songwriting. Her music even caught the attention of musical legend Sir Elton John, who named her track “1995” as a personal favorite. The album has been praised by Nashville’s own independent radio station Lightning 100, Ear to the Ground Music, Belles & Gals, Aupium, Bluegrass & Strings, The Influences and more.
Glide is thrilled to premiere “Mary Jane” a soulful and jazzy romp that recalls the brassy glory of Tedeschi Trucks Band and the danceable versatility of Lake Street Dive. Judy Blank adds a sassy new spark and cultural reference point to a packed Americana scene full of trucker and cowboy hats but no cloches.
“People think I wrote the perfect weed anthem with ‘Mary Jane’. I get offered a lot of interesting things after shows these days. What most people don’t know is that I wrote it about a lazy ex-boyfriend, who was always smoking weed from the money his parents gave him. He truly believed he was gonna be a rockstar someday. I thought it was the biggest paradox ever.”
Photo by Satellite June.
Catch Judy Blank at Americanafest on Saturday, September 14 at the Basement East.