The last we heard from the Portland singer-songwriter Johanna Warren was in 2018, with the release of her great Gemini II. Now, the multi-instrumentalist and producer is about to return with another album, her first since signing with Wax Nine/Carpark Records. She produced it herself, and it’s called Chaotic Good.
“I’ve been thinking of life as one big roleplaying game,” Warren said of the album’s title, a reference to Dungeons & Dragons’ alignment system (which has also become a meme in recent times). “There’s chance, there’s choice, and there’s alignment — what forces in the universe do I choose to align myself with?” She continued: “The last few years I’ve had an urge to change my name, or create some alter-ego. But I’ve come to realize that ‘Johanna’ is already just a character. We think we know who we are based on what’s already happened, but we’re allowed to make new choices.”
In a press release, Chaotic Good is described as “an exercise in self-reinvention.” It supposedly veers from spare piano confessions to more fleshed-out, grunge-leaning material. Having written it and recorded it in various studios all over the country while touring Gemini I and Gemini II, it became a real-time document of change and specific memories. “Chaotic Good is a metamorphosis,” Warren said. “It’s my phoenix moment. Everything I’ve done before was just building the funeral pyre.”
Along with the announcement, Warren shared a lead single called “Bed Of Nails.” In some ways, it recalls the introspective quality of Warren’s past work, with gentle keyboard notes and blue-hued guitars intertwining throughout. It builds up as it goes, strums and warm percussion bringing her to an emphatic yet morose conclusion. “Bed Of Nails” comes with a video, centering on themes of decay and growth. Check it out below.
Chaotic Good is out 5/1 via Wax Nine/Carpark Records. Pre-order it here.