Jess Cornelius

CARE/TAKING (Tender Loving Empire)

Contact Jaycee Rockhold about Jess Cornelius

Today, New Zealand-raised, Los Angeles-based artist Jess Cornelius announces her sophomore album CARE/TAKING, out June 14th via her new label Tender Loving Empire Records, and a North American tour. In conjunction, she presents the album’s lead single/video, “People Move On.” Cornelius writes arresting songs that capture the disorientation and endless possibilities of being in flux. On CARE/TAKING, she sings of personal upheaval with striking lucidity and emotional nimbleness. Where 2020’s Distance found her untethered moving across continents and entering a solo career after a long stint fronting the Australian band Teeth & Tongue, this LP has the songwriter firmly established in her California home but no less at a crossroads. Over 10 intricate and immediate songs, she grapples with squaring global crises and insecurities with the transformations and responsibilities in her life. It’s searching indie rock that’s as biting as it is comforting.


Work on CARE/TAKING started patiently years ago with Cornelius sketching out ideas on her Yamaha Portasound keyboard. “There was a lot of change happening in my life,” she says. “I was coming out of a relationship with the father of my child. It was a turbulent time being from New Zealand, living in L.A., and realizing that this family unit wasn’t sustainable.” While that dissolution was a heartbreaking shift in her life, she was grateful for the stability she had: her support system, the home she felt settled in, and her craft. It’s with this perspective that the songs on the album possess a tangible grace even when they’re about loss.


On CARE/TAKING, the emotional stakes are higher. “The biggest shift for me that has happened over the last few years is that I had a kid,” says Cornelius. “What that did is it made me think about death more than I have in my entire life. A lot of the songs are about how much I have to lose now and what would that look like,” Though there’s an undercurrent of fear and a fear of loss on CARE/TAKING, it still feels hopeful and grounded. “I had access to more self-belief in my life,” says Cornelius. “With age, you get better at seeing what you actually have and be grateful for it. I still write about relationships and their complexities with this weird and dark layer but there’s more of a sense of joy now.”


Navigating these oppositional feelings proved to be creatively significant: she demoed songs at home and had the foundations of nearly 20 tracks sketched out. With these promising ideas, she enlisted producer and multi-instrumentalist Mikal Cronin—an L.A. indie rock mainstay known for his own solo music and his work with Ty Segall—to help winnow down the material. Cornelius and Cronin, along with drummer Steven Urgo, diligently recorded CARE/TAKING over sessions at Cronin’s home studio as well as Segall’s Harmonizer Studios. The lush arrangements throughout the LP, which feature glistening keys and saxophone, all thread the needle between being knotty and brooding to breezy and stunning. Her melodies careen into unexpected places but they’re all anchored with a keen sense of timelessness.


Propelled by the relentless forward motion of a defiantly-strummed electric guitar, “People Move On” does indeed move: always further towards its destination of exultant, off-kilter pop-rock. But rather than a straight guitar-rock song, Cornelius’ take on the genre is characteristically unpredictable — buoyed by frenetic piano stabs, layers of tightly dramatic vocal harmonies, alto saxophone, a sing-along-in-in-the-car chorus, and an unusual, ever-evolving song structure that freewheels into a lush acapella breakdown.


“Caretaking and caregiving mean the same thing but taking and giving are opposites,” says Cornelius. “I wanted to focus on the taking as much as the caring: What is the constant caretaking in my life and how have we failed in the caretaking of the earth and ourselves?”


    Jun 14, 2024
    Los Angeles, CA

    Jul 20, 2024
    Portland, OR

    Aug 08, 2024
    New York, NY
    TV EYE

    Aug 09, 2024
    Northampton, MA
    Iron Horse Music Hall

    Aug 10, 2024
    Philadelphia, PA
    MilkBoy Philly

    Aug 11, 2024
    Baltimore, MD

    Aug 12, 2024
    Hamden, CT
    Space Ballroom