Jenny Bruce’s latest EP, Firefly in a Jar, is now available on iTunes and CDBaby!
‘Firefly in a Jar’ could be the perfect metaphor for the past decade of singer-songwriter, Jenny Bruce’s life.
Born-and-raised in New York City, as a young child, Bruce discovered songwriting and poetry as a means of self-expression. Prone to anxiety and depression, Bruce discovered that channeling her feelings into songs or poems seemed to ease her struggles and writing quickly became a safety valve. One of Bruce’s fondest childhood memories is of spending summers at her grandmother’s suburban Pittsburgh home. “We would catch fireflies in the front yard and put them in a jar overnight. We wanted to keep their light. That didn’t end well for the firefly,” Bruce recalled. Writing songs and poetry was like letting the fireflies out of the jar. Setting her feelings free.
Fast-forward, as Bruce was finishing up her third independent album, Left of July, she discovered that she was pregnant. She continued performing and writing through her pregnancy and at the birth of her first son, Bruce felt a new sense of meaning and peace in her life.
Less than one month later, her mother was given a shocking terminal diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. She died nine months later. Bruce had a very close relationship with her mother and losing her was devastating. Grieving while navigating new-motherhood herself, Bruce struggled with depression. To compound matters, Bruce’s husband’s once thriving career as a children’s book illustrator came screeching to a halt. Bruce all but sealed up her music career in a jar opting for the stability of a full-time job, at one point, even working several jobs, to keep her family afloat.
“From the moment my mother died, I went into some kind of auto-pilot as grief, loss and the stresses of motherhood threatened to pull me under. After having a second son, I experienced postpartum depression. While I ultimately recovered, a part of me remained numb. It felt like there wasn’t room for me in my own life. As much as I loved my family and being a mother, it was hard to find the joy when I had given up something so vital to me. Songwriting.”
Bruce found herself going through the motions not for months, but rather for years, until she received a phone call at work, out of the blue, from an old music-industry friend and supporter. “Charlie zapped me back from the living-dead with that phone call. He insisted that music is a part of who I am and that I needed to find a way back to it. Tears were streaming down my face as I hung up the phone knowing that he was right and that I needed to begin writing for myself again.”
It was time to open up the jar and hope there was still something flickering, living inside.
With Bruce’s signature eloquence and insight, the songs on Firefly in a Jar tackle some of the inevitable challenges of adulthood. With “Firefly in a Jar” Bruce allowed herself to feel and express the struggles of the past decade. Depression, drinking to feel numb and letting go.
In addition to five original songs, Firefly in a Jar also includes an exquisitely, soulful rendition of the John Waite, 80’s hit song, “Change,” endowing the cover with new layers of emotional meaning and depth.
After launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund her EP, Bruce recruited Emmy Award-Winning, veteran producer, songwriter and guitarist, Matt Anthony. Bruce had been working with Matt for years on TV and film pitches, including the most recently licensed song, “It’s Your Parade” written with Jennifer Marks and Noel Cohen. “I call him ‘Magic Matt’ Bruce cays, “Since you walk into his studio with a lyric sheet and a song in your head and you walk out with a gorgeous recording. I knew he would feel this album and the simplicity I was looking for.”
Bruce admits that she hopes there is more to making this album than simply liberating her own pent up emotions. “I needed to make this album for myself, but I hope it reaches anyone out there who has had to put a dream on hold. Who has felt overwhelming loss. Even though sometimes you have to adjust your dreams a bit, that doesn’t mean giving up.”
A 1999 Lilith Fair Talent Search finalist, Bruce garnered attention from major music industry publications for her work, including Billboard Magazine. “Home” from her 2001 release, Soul On Fire was included as the only track from an “unsigned” artist on a popularMartha Stewart compilation CD, featuring Alison Krauss, Barenaked Ladies, Lucinda Williams and other well-known artists.
Her work has been recognized with numerous songwriting awards, including first place in the coveted Billboard Song Contest Great American Songwriting Contest as well as the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, the International Songwriting Contest, the Independent Music Awards, the Just Plain Folks Song Contest, the Unisong Songwriting Contest, the USA Songwriting Contest and the Windrift Songwriting Contest.
Bruce’s recordings can be heard in multiple network TV shows, including: (ABC) All My Children, (CBS) Ghost Whisperer, (NBC) The Today Show, (WB) Dawson’s Creek, (WB) Glory Days, (NBC) Meet My Folks, (UPN) Jake 2.0, (FOX) King Of The Hill, (ABC) Six Degrees and (COMEDY CENTRAL) Children’s Hospital.
Each firefly has its path and Bruce has released her songs into the proverbial twilight to discover their own glowing destiny. The EP, Firefly in a Jar, elicits that feeling of opening a jar and watching fireflies emerge and flicker in the dark.
Jenny Bruce’s latest EP, Firefly in a Jar, is now available on iTunesandCDBaby!
Richard Julian joined me on backing vocals for this song. He was so cool about it. Everything he does is cool.
Man, this album is a story... I will have to write it down one day. It's almost like this sweet album was buried alive. It was never officially released. But these songs are chapters of my life. Painful. Beautiful. Complicated.
Produced by the suave and very talented Ethan Eubanks, this album is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll + whatever else it is I do. #WhoAmIFooling#SingerSngwriter