“I wasn’t planning on making a record,” says Juliana Hatfield, of her new “Pussycat” album. In fact, she thought her songwriting career was on hiatus, and that she had nothing left to say in song form; that she had finally said it all after two decades as a recording artist.
But then the presidential election happened. “All of these songs just started pouring out of me. And I felt an urgency to record them, to get them down, and get them out there.” She booked some time at Q Division studios in Somerville, Massachusetts near her home in Cambridge and went in with a drummer (Pete Caldes), an engineer (Pat DiCenso) and fourteen brand-new songs. Hatfield produced and played every instrument other than drums—bass, keyboards, guitars, vocals. From start to finish—recording through mixing—the whole thing took a total of just twelve and a half days to complete.
“It was a blur. It was cathartic,” says Hatfield. “I almost don’t even understand what happened in there, or how it came together so smoothly, so quickly. I was there, directing it all, managing it, getting it all done, but I was being swept along by some force that was driving me. The songs had a will, they forced themselves on me, or out of me, and I did what they told me to do. Even my hands—it felt like they were not my hands. I played bass differently-- looser, more confident, better.”
“Pussycat” comes on the heels of last year’s Hatfield collaboration with Paul Westerberg, the I Don’t Cares’ “Wild Stab” album, and before that, 2015’s Juliana Hatfield Three (“My Sister”, “Spin The Bottle”) reunion/reformation album, “Whatever, My Love”.
“I’ve always been prolific and productive and I have a good solid work ethic but this one happened so fast, I didn’t have time to think or plan,” says Hatfield. “I just went with it, rode the wave. And now it is out of my hands. It feels a little scary.”
”Pussycat” is being released into a very tense, divided and inflamed America. The songs are reflective of that atmosphere—angry (“When You’re A Star”), defiant (“Touch You Again”), disgusted (“Rhinoceros”), but also funny (“Short-Fingered Man”), reflective (“Wonder Why”), righteous (“Heartless”) and even hopeful (“Impossible Song”, with its chorus of ‘What if we tried to get along/and sing an impossible song’).