Interview: Brennan on Her 2017 Album ‘Jersey Devil’ & the Creative Process


“With one hand on the wheel and one hand holding a Wawa quesadilla, Gabe turned to me and asked, “Do you know what the Jersey Devil is?” — album description of Jersey Devil

From the Studio Ghibli¬esque peacefulness of “Queen Anna” to the heartbreaking tremors of “I Love You but I’m Letting You Go”, Brennan’s album captures the ups and downs of human experience in just five songs. The five songs are enough to take me through a whole spectrum of emotions.

I always get hooked by the sound of an acoustic guitar strumming along to a voice rich with stories, and that is exactly what Brennan delivers in her album, “Jersey Devil”. Like having someone stroke your hair in a dimly lit room, her songs are comforting, at the same time filled past sorrows. The lyrics reflect her gift for storytelling, like we’re all looking out the same window but for me, she points out something that completely changes my perspective.

Along with a strained voice, squeaks from the metal of the guitar, the album ends with footsteps walking into the distance, creating that sense of closure that we all crave.

Help me, help me operator I’m jaded but my words don’t slur
Heaven’s for the faint of heart and hell is for the folks that stay the same ¬¬Walking

How would a nine-one-one operator respond to a philosophical crisis like this? Does their training prepare them to deal with the possibility that heaven is for those who can’t take the truth and that hell is actually for those who have already accepted much of reality. The nine-one-one operator isn’t prepared to face such an existential crisis of the internal state of mind when they respond to a call.

I met a twelve year old disciple
He said I was six feet under

What an interesting point she brings up, to be condemned to hell by a twelve year old disciple, who is blind to most of the world and has not even begun their journey into life yet. For someone so clueless to reach such a harrowing conclusion about someone else.

Jersey Devil by Brennan

There are so many riveting lyrics (or as she calls them, “spicy one¬liners”) throughout the album, and infinite interpretations of them. Her songs make me feel like I’m riding alone on the T at night with my headphones on, my mind filled with music and reflections of the day. To be immersed in a tranquil state of reflective music and my thoughts, that’s the effect of her work. The constant state of chaos is now a norm in our lives, and very rarely do we get a chance to slow down.

I appreciate the space that Brennan creates for me, giving me a breather from the demands of each day. Read below to hear more about Brennan’s music, creative process, and the Jersey Devil:

Boston Hassle: I was so hooked on that album description and I wanted to read more. Is the Jersey Devil a real myth that goes around your neighborhood? Tell me more about the story behind that!!

Brennan: Thanks for reading it! I think about deleting it sometimes but then I remember that’s the way I released it so that’s the way it’s FREAKIN’ staying!! The Jersey Devil is a folkloric creature said to gallop around the forests of southern New Jersey. My friend was giving me a hard time about being spooked of the dark while we were driving at night when he told me about the urban legend. I was looking everywhere for a name for the EP and it seemed right.

BH: Who are your biggest influences?

Brennan: They seem to change a lot these days. Recently, I’ve been really excited about Big Thief. Adrianne Lenker’s guitar wizardry has inspired me to learn more fingerpicking patterns and add more proper nouns into my lyrics. Portishead and Nina Simone have also helped me break out of old writing habits.

BH: Queen Anna is such a beautiful song and I know when I listen to it I definitely get lots of Studio Ghibli vibes. What was the vision you had while writing it and what is your general songwriting process like?

Brennan: My dad wanted me to write a song about summer for him, and I was really struggling with not writing about flip flops. I cracked the code and decided to personify June, July and August as different characters for each verse. As for my writing process, I like to hang out with my guitar and find a progression or riff that feels good, then I go digging in journal or iPhone notes to find spicy one¬liners and go from there. Journals are important to my process because they remind me of where I’ve been and help me keep track of plain old silly life things that could grow into good songs.

BH: My favorite track from the album is definitely Blue. That sort of bass then chord strumming gets me every time. What is your personal favorite from the album?

Brennan: Thank you!! My favorite is “Because”. It’s the one song on Jersey Devil that hasn’t aged in my mind. I love performing it and remembering what it felt like to write it. Knowing that it’s still relevant to me for different reasons feels like time travel somehow. I loved all the nuances in Jersey Devil and I can’t wait to hear more from you! Any chance you could give an insight into that? Yes, I can! I am playing a lot of full¬band shows recently and we’re starting to go by the name Sister Lois. It’s been a good vehicle for conveying different ideas and feelings that I couldn’t while performing solo. We are recording an album soon and hopefully it will be released before the end of 2018!! I post all of our shows on !!

:^) Hope to see y’all there.

Flyer by Sarah Friedman


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