TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 27: Lorenzo Wolff

Judee Sill was a California-based songwriter who came of age during the peak of the Laurel Canyon scene in the early 1970s and she mingled with the likes of Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell. In fact, Sill was even the first artist to be signed to David Geffen’s Asylum Records label. But, Judee—and her music—generally tapped into something a little darker; more dangerous than her colleagues did. Sill relied on Christianity, mysticism, and occult imagery that could sometimes be comforting and uplifting, yet simultaneously looming and foreboding.

Judee released two very well-regarded albums, her self-titled debut Judee Sill was released in 1971 and her follow-up, Heart Food, came out in 1973. However, she never hit the big time. After years struggling with addiction, Sill died in 1979. The limited body of music that she left behind is, however, exquisite.

New York multi-instrumentalist and producer, Lorenzo Wolff, also loves Judee Sill and has crafted an EP reimagining some of Judee’s classic tunes. It’s titled “Down Where the Valleys are Low: Another Otherworld for Judee Sill,” released on StorySound Records. Wolff’s vision was to avoid simply recreating Sill’s excellence, but rather to funnel her music through an edgy and contemporary lens. Some Sill fans might initially be taken aback by the treatment Wolff has given these tracks, but that’s the point: he’s fostering a conversation about Sill and her music whether you like it, or not.

While Lorenzo performs on all of the tracks, he’s chosen to showcase different vocalists in an effort to get the right voice behind the right songs. Some of the artists in his stable are Bartees Strange, Michael Cerveris, Mary-Elaine Jenkins, Grace McLean, Emily Holden, and more.

While Judee Sill isn’t exactly the hidden treasure that she used to be, talking about her life and music is always a special treat. If you’ve never been introduced to Judee Sill, well, welcome aboard; we’ve been waiting here for you to join us. If you’re a Judee lover, then you’ll likely find plenty to enjoy in this conversation and, if you don’t you still might walk away seeing Judee from a slightly different perspective; from another other world.

Evan Toth is a songwriter, professional musician, educator, radio host, avid record collector and hi-fi aficionado. Toth hosts and produces The Sharp Notes each Saturday evening at 6pm and TVD Radar on Sundays at 5AM on WFDU, 89.1 FM. Follow him at the usual social media places and visit his website.

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