Taken from “Bones & Structure”, out October 14th on Ruination Record Co.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Katie Ernst (Twin Talk, Jason Moran) sings on “Bridge,” a dreamy standout on Edith Judith’s debut album, Bones & Structure. As the music burbles softly around her—a deftly plucked guitar theme, a drumbeat that alternates between keeping and disrupting time, a saxophone that swims in and out of earshot—she gives no clue whether that statement should comfort or concern the listener. It’s a line laden with competing meanings, as though neither she nor Dustin Laurenzi (Jeff Parker, Twin Talk, Bon Iver, Macie Stewart), the other half of Edith Judith, has ever settled on the song’s true intentions. Without sounding vague or detached, this Chicago-based duo thrives on such ambiguity, creating songs that are open-ended, unsettled, alive to as many implications as a listener brings to them.
“Are we not going anywhere because we’re such a strong unit?” Ernst poses. “Or are we not going anywhere because it’s a dead end? The many meanings that a word can have is something that is incredibly compelling to me personally, and I try to let people take whatever they need from a song without imposing too much of an agenda.” Ernst and Laurenzi have explored such musical ambiguity in their other musical projects, but Edith Judith sharpens their talent for creating catchy, thoughtful songs that sound straightforward on their surface but reveal new possibilities with each listen.
Perhaps that comes from writing during a period of intense uncertainty. Ernst and Laurenzi started the band in their Chicago apartment during the first months of the pandemic, which certainly adds another twist to the phrase, “We’re not going anywhere.” “We were in this weird time when you didn’t know what was going on,” says Ernst. “Was it good to get a time out from life? Or were we all gonna die? You can swim in that ambiguity.”
While Edith Judith was born during uncertain times, the band is not merely a pandemic project. It has become its own distinct entity, an ongoing collaboration between two imaginative musicians who bring out something unique in each other. It’s not the only music the couple make together, but a specific corner of their shared world. “We didn’t go into this looking for answers or trying to be sure about anything,” says Ernst. “These are love songs and question songs, hopeful songs and sad songs. They’re poems of uncertainty.”