The music of Oleh Zaychenko, who performs under the moniker Bring Prudence, alternately shimmers with the subtle textures of chamber pop and seamlessly breaks into folk-rock, recalling the soundtrack of the folk revival of the 1960s with a sound he calls “folk resuscitation.” His next single, “Summon the Ghost,” is out today, a tribute to the power of memory that features a Balinese gendèr — often used for significant ceremonies — as well as a slightly out-of-tune Brooklyn public library piano.
Within the 11 songs on his sophomore album, Dreamboat (April 7), Bring Prudence expands upon the foundation of his stripped-down debut, 2016's Red Horses, diving into a range of sonic influences from Gillian Welch to the Amelie soundtrack. The album is full of magical thinking, disintegrating relationships, childhood loneliness, and sacrifice, with a cast of Ukrainian folklore characters—and, occasionally, a small sprinkling of business jargon for kicks.
Previously released singles include “Midnight,” one of Rolling Stone's recent Songs You Need to Know This Week, with a sound inspired by the rockabilly momentum of Old 97's and Jason Molina-esque slide guitar on an examination of a stunted, one-way relationship. “Bonfire" is a wannabe eulogy for the pile of jackets that forms on a bed during every decent party and, ultimately, is about the hormonal rollercoaster of falling in love for the first time. Just when everything is at its bleakest and you're ready to “open that sliding door and sink,” you're swept back to safety by your lover and the possibility of a new life with them.
On Dreamboat, Zaychenko reunited with his former Pursued By a Bear bandmate Julia Brown (Barrel Flash) on backing vocals. Initially tapped as a mixing engineer, multi-instrumentalist Damon Waitkus (Jack O' The Clock, Ventifacts) ended up contributing pianet, mandolin, vocals, atmosphere, and slide guitar along with co-producing the album.
“I recorded the vast majority of the album by myself on one mediocre USB microphone in my apartment,” Zaychenko says. “The wonderfully out-of-tune piano and drums were recorded at the Brooklyn Public Library in Bushwick, where the windows didn't shut all the way, so all the street noise bled into the tracks. The rest of the contributions were done remotely, which opened up the possibility of involving my friends in the recording process, and I'm really happy I did.”
The cover art, a twist on the cosmological exterior panels of Bosch's “Garden of Earthly Delights,” is a composite of those themes and characters. Created by visual artist Jess Hock, the cover incorporates hand-drawn, digital, and photographed elements into a dreamlike display.
Beginning with a few seconds of glistening ambient tones before slipping into a gentle stream of pianet, bass, and brush drums, album opener “Chinchilla” has him conceding, “my sisters they love me, they win at Monopoly.” “Summon the Ghost” is a tribute to the power of memories, featuring a Balinese gendèr, often used for significant ceremonies, as well as the aforementioned Brooklyn public library piano.
“Potions” provides an interesting backstory: “At one point in my life, I found myself buying a headphone splitter, convinced that it would save my disintegrating relationship,” Zaychenko says. “It didn't, but it did make recording Dreamboat in my bedroom a lot easier. The song itself is about the inability of magical thinking to restore your previous life — I knew I had to release this song sooner rather than later because it wouldn't make any sense for Bluetooth headphones.”
“Joan of Arc,” Zaychenko says, is “perhaps the purest song on the album,” written about the eventual inevitability of ending up with the right person. The track features a domra, a lute-like Ukrainian instrument. “Storm Queen” follows, with a Bonnie and Clyde meets Bruce Springsteen meets Storm King adventure, replete with East Coast landmarks and an ode to the Boss himself.
Dreamboat ends with “Watermelon,” a tribute to Zaychenko's grandmothers. “I also talk about moving and starting over — something my family did a lot when I was a kid,” he says. “It leaves an imprint on you, but can also be a fresh start, which is why I thought it would make for a perfect closer.“
“Music is a form of time travel,” Zaychenko says of the album as a whole, “and Dreamboat is soaked in memories — some real, some absurd — but what I love about this album is they're not just my memories this time.”
After moving to the Chicago suburbs from Ukraine in 2003, Zaychenko started writing poems and recording songs on his cell phone to cope with isolation. By 16, he saved up enough money from his Dunkin' Donuts job to buy Jasmine — his only acoustic guitar to date. He chose the name Bring Prudence because he wanted to be right next to Bring Crosby and Bright Eyes on his clickwheel iPod. It wasn't until many years later that he realized Bing didn't actually have an “r” in his name.
All proceeds from Dreamboat will go to the Ukrainian NGO Come Back Alive until the war is over.
Dreamboat Track Listing:
Summon The Ghost
Candle in a Jar
City of Twins
Joan of Arc