What happens when you’re at a crossroads in your career, wondering which way to go? If you’re Jill Sobule, the answer is to toss your career path to your fans, take a new-media, semi-Radiohead (think In Rainbows) approach, and see how far those fans are willing to go … especially monetarily speaking.
On Sobule’s new record, California Years, much new ground is being broken, and new boundaries of what just is and is not for sale become evident. Is this the new wave of funding the music you love, especially in tough economic times? How much is a recording of your voice on a vocal track worth on a record, especially if you love the musician? How about having your favorite musician write a track specifically for you?
These are the fundamental questions posed by the release of California Years, a record that finds Jill Sobule putting out perhaps a more indie than indie (if that’s even possible) album that was 100 percent funded by her own fans (over $85K via jillsnextrecord.com). I’m still not sure what to make of it. It certainly retains music originality; Jill got to record all the songs she and her fans wanted to, and, for the most part, they’re well done. There are a few too many generic lines about being ostracized from the music scene and about being left behind. But those are the songs that her fans wanted to hear and that she wanted to make, and that’s probably a good thing. In that sense, it is a small, local, community-oriented, and very appropriate record for our times.
California Years is out now on Pinko Records.