Jen Reilly / Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin
Eddy Bluma / Vocals, Guitar
Married collaboration Jen Reilly and Eddy Bluma explore the origins of the oral folk tradition that touches upon outlaw and rock ballads. Their recent Michael Hagler (Wilco/Billy Bragg’s Mermaid Avenue; Jon Langford’s Waco Brothers) produced album, Myths and Mortals, has risen to develop a sound that is world-worn but powerful and commanding of attention. Called "one of the best new albums of 2017" by Steve Morse, 30 year Boston Globe critic, the album expands the duo’s standalone intimate harmonic swells, featuring Chicago hometown heroes Gerald Dowd, John Abbey, as well as Alton Smith. Most outstanding for this rising duo, is the contribution of Austin City Limits Hall Of Fame member Lloyd Maines, whose collaborations range from Guy Clark to Joe Ely.
“Old souls,” migrating from desert and sea, the two began collaborating as a folk duo with tempting harmonies and lonesome spirituals. Reilly’s country gospel roots and southern swing deeply welcomed the black leather grit of Bluma’s rock influences in new intertwining medley. Far-reaching, yet familiar; The New Zeitgeist calls from the deep to weary, worn trails of spirits lingering."
Oh my! Surprised and delighted to learn we were in the top 20 albums of 2017 on Tampa's Community station, #WMNF! Thank you to any folks up for #TheWakingHours. :) http://www.wmnf.org/events/the-waking-hours/
Thanks to public and community radio, we made December's #195 in the Top 200 Folk radio charts! Also, our album Myths and Mortals got a mention from Goldmine Magazine: The Collectors Record And Compact Disc Marketplace (Click here). Here's a snippet:"Hmm. It’s been a good year for Americana and roots music. Let’s look back on some worthy discs – some by big stars, some by barely known people.
Thanks to Music Critic Tom Wilk for closing out our year with a dazzle! To our surprise and delight, our album made the last month of the year's music column in Icon Magazine! You can read the full review (click here), in which we are the only self-released album!
In reflection of October, some exciting news from The New Zeitgeist is that Myths and Mortals ranked #5 in the top airplay playlist at WERU-FM Community Radio 89.9 in Blue Hill, Maine! A Northeast tour is in the works for the summer of 2018.
Sept. 18, 2017
The Download with Justin Kaufmann
Click on the link above to hear our live interview with WGN host Justin Kaufmann. We talk about the genre of roots, contemplate the meaning and power of folk, how stories shaped the record, & working with the great Lloyd Maines on our latest record, "Myths and Mortals." Watch our liveStudio 435 performances of "Looking Glass Man," "The Ghost Trail," and "Desert Rose."
July 18, 2017
Country Standard Time
The New Zeitgeist, Myths and Mortals (Self-released)
Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman
Jen Reilly and Eddy Bluma, the Chicago based duo that dubs themselves The New Zeitgeist, met as solo artists in 2009. Eight years later, they have created a particular branding that relies on heady perception, a knowing perspective and a haunting goth/folk/country sound. In a sense, "Myths and Mortals" portends to be something significant, whether it's through the pair's obvious reverence for traditional roots or a general sort of circumspect that suggests they're aiming for a philosophically higher ground. In fact, it's a level of awareness that only book literate, fully cognisant listeners might find cause to fully appreciate.
Like the Handsome Family and forlorn folksters of an earlier era, Reilly and Bluma harbor the spirits that dwell in the hidden hollows of Appalachia and the dust blown stretches of far western prairies. There's a mournful sadness that seeps through these songs like the wind through a creaky screen door, all barren emotion and weary resignation. Reilly wails and moans in ways that elevate these plaintive melodies to a higher purpose, giving songs such as "The Ghost Trail" and "Old Hammerin' Bill" a vivid tone and trapping that's as darkly descriptive as the names imply. Reilly and Bluma are old souls in every sense - stoic, solid and sincere,bound to a tireless tradition that serves both the imagery and their intentions very well.
Ultimately, "Myths and Mortals" may prove to be too deliberative and pensive for some, too dire and despondent for others. None of that should be surprising, given the fact that the pair have carved out a vintage-sounding niche. Still, those that admire a certain seminal style may will be entranced, drawn to the cerebral suggestion that this rugged gem of a record has to offer.
July 17, 2017
No Depression & The Morton Report
Reviewed by Jeff Burger
The New Zeitgeist-Myths and Mortals (Click here for link)
Good luck guessing which three of the 11 tracks here date from the 1800s; they sound no more or less timeless than the originals on this album, which features vocals and poetic lyrics by a Chicago-based duo: Jen Reilly, who sounds redolent of Judy Collins, and Eddy Bluma. If you like the work of such artists as Fairport Convention, Renaissance,and Richard and Linda Thompson, give this well-honed collection a listen.
July 6 2017
Associated Press review
Review: The New Zeitgeist’s music connects Dublin and Austin
By Steven Wine | AP July 6
The New Zeitgeist, “Myths and Mortals” (The New Zeitgeist)
Many of the lyrics on “Myths and Mortals” date back more than a century, which is why the New Zeitgeist is singing of fairies, fables and linnet’s wings. This is real roots music that connects Dublin and Austin.
The Chicago-based duo Jen Reilly and Eddy Bluma pair original material with poems by W.B. Yeats, Carl Sandburg, William Allingham and Sidney Lanier, and they make the words sing. It helps that Reilly could win a Kathy Mattea impersonation contest — her sturdy alto matches the material, whether the setting is dappled grass or a dusty trail. Bluma’s guitar and a supporting cast that includes Lloyd Maines on Dobro and pedal steel deftly straddle musical genres.
There’s a crunchy hint of the blues on “Looking Glass Man,” while “Peter Pan’s Remorse” conjures druids. “Desert Rose” gives a country waltz an Irish lilt, and “Kingdom Highway” is Gaelic gospel. It all makes for an enchanting mix like nothing else being heard in roadhouses or pubs.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
July 7 2017
WLUW Razor & Die Interview
We had a gas at the WLUW studio discussing blue hair, ghost trails, and why fairies are on the new album. Click on the player to listen to the full interview!
July 5 2017
CAU On Axis Music Review
The New Zeitgeist Myths and Mortals
by Hannah Frank On Axis Music
Cinematic, fresh and lush-- this is country music without the dirt and dust, simply the soaring voices and storytelling, wrapped in layered arrangements with symphonic depth and vocal beauty which is normally reserved for classical music. Delivering mood as the main ingredient, these songs create visuals with bits of stories and characters which read like movie scores to a movie we can't quite see, just imagine.
Using imagery which recalls America's Wild West, the mysteries of personal journeys, as well as hints of Elizabethan ballads, the album is built on the foundations of the past. Yet, like a novel it creates its own reality without compromise.
The album Myths and Mortals is full of galloping rhythms, instrumentation of guitar, lap steel, flute, drums, organ, and more. The vocals of Jen Reilly burn fire-like throughout, creating embers which catch the imagination. They stand out most on Desert Rose, a country ballad where fans of Patsy Cline are defied to not melt. Looking Glass Man is reminiscent of Grace Slick with Jefferson Airplane with the grunge replaced by ethereal waves, thanks to vocals and perfect cymbal crashing, creating a bath of sonic beauty. Kingdom Highway is the song that hints at America's gospel tradition, with Kingdom Highway being a metaphor for Kingdom Come; where the narrator hears a joyful noise, drawing them in, and hears the angels singing a joyful tune. Organ fills in and the song establishes a groove with a comfortable hook on guitar that sets off the vocals. Several tracks feature Eddy Bluma on vocals, which balances the album as he shares a steadfast world-worn wisdom which foils the ethereal.
This is not folk music in an "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" aesthetic, or a retro rockabilly country style full of kitsch and vintage thrift store costumes, rather, its artifice is holistic-- it seeks to envelop you completely, rather than simply be a novelty. To achieve this, there is not a hair out of place. With formalities in delivery and execution, it allows us to take refuge in the mysteries of the past, while creating a present in which reality is defined by what surrounds us. Like finding an old trunk in an attic and being pulled into another world, the album uses the artifacts of the past to awaken our curiosity and help us unearth new emotions in the present.
A convergence of influences work hand in hand. Scales and modes recall the Eastern influence on the Western United States through Chinese immigrants, as well as Native American influence on the American West, mixed with the stories of pioneers and explorers who dealt in a land of strange beauty and savage mysteries.
Storytelling by Bluma on tracks like The Ghost Trail include lines “red dusty streets...miner's regrets and gambler's debts...”, recalling the red clay of the South, as well as imagery of cliffs and cobblestone. The chorus about a ghost trail not only refers to Westward expansion, but also to our personal pilgrimages. On Fear of Little Men, the vocals of Reilly and Bluma work together expertly, with a mysterious hook that keeps the song engaging, while the upbeat Lack of Linear Thought is a present-day pop song, with a fun organ riff that is undeniably smile inducing.
The American West mirrors personal paths, with the unforeseen challenges and victories as well as inevitable defeats at the hands of fate-- yet even within this there is beauty. Instead of a textbook about the past, or a caricature of it, I sense the timelessness of it. This is the great achievement of this album. For a time when we all might want to take a break from smartphones and current events, this album offers not only a portal to another world (which is relaxing, epic and full of waderlust) but the reminder that we create our own realities.
June 21 2017
The Alternate Root Review
The New Zeitgeist (from the album Myths and Mortals)
Middle America visits the citizens of middle earth as Chicago, Illinois duo The New Zeitgeist explore the origin of Folk traditions and oral stories involving meetings of Myths and Mortals on their recent release. The New Zeitgeist link the past with the present, spinning tales in tune with olden times (“Lake Isle of Innisfree”, “Peter Pan’s Remorse”) with an nod to the Myths and Mortals that inhabit the new lands of America (“Song of the Chattahoochee”, “Old Hammerin’ Bill”). The folk-based feel of the album incorporates elements of western Country as twang moves slowly on the dry air breeze of “Desert Rose” and mountain rhythms push the pace along the dark edge of “The Ghost Trail”. The New Zeitgeist came together when solo performers Jen Reilly and Eddy Bluma met on the Chicago Folk music scene. Performing as a duo since 2009, the pair blended Southern feel of Jen Reilly’s background with the grit in the music of Eddy Bluma.
Myths and Mortals wanders “Kingdom Highway” with majestic vocals, lightly steps on sparkling notes for “Fear of Little Men (March of the Faeries)”, and puts downfalls heavy footfalls of rhythm for “Looking Glass Man” as The New Zeitgeist back the fantasy tale in “The Wandering Aengus” with soft country guitar riffs.
June 15 2017
1st album Review! Steve Morse
My Independent Review of THE NEW ZEITGEIST
MYTHS AND MORTALS
"Songs evoking a sense of mystery are often missing from today's music scene, but they are the lifeblood of this hauntingly brilliant Chicago act. Anchored by singers Jen Reilly and Eddy Bluma, the group delves into everything from mystical folk tales to adapting timeless poems by Carl Sandburg and William Butler Yeats. The enchanting, electro-acoustic soundscapes move from Celtic folk-rock to soulful country in the vein of Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons (the song "Desert Rose" evokes Parsons' legendary "Hickory Wind"), to the more determined rock of Bluma's "The Ghost Trail." Reilly has a supple, emotionally riveting voice that suggests the legendary Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention. She mesmerizes throughout, whether on her self-written "Kingdom Highway" or the public domain "Song of the Wandering Aengus," where her vocal takes a flight into the heavens and leaves you completely in awe.
Hands down, this is one of the best new albums of 2017."
-- STEVE MORSE, longtime Boston Globe critic; current professor in Rock History at Berklee College of Music
June 2 2017
You can purchase the album in either form of a digital download folder or CD directly from the band at our website store www.thenewzeitgeist.com/store! We also have digital distribution across most online music platforms including iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, and Amazon (physical warehouse & digital) if you prefer a certain online store, made possible by our distributor CD Baby where you can find special deals on buying the album in bulk (makes a great gift J). Additionally, our YouTube channel has experienced a complete new summer “do” and is ready for watching!
Apple Music by iTunes: https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/album/myths-and-mortals/id1233763219?mt=1&app=music
"Myths and Mortals" Spring Release
Greetings, Friends, City-folk, and Country Dwellers~
Happy New Year to you this January of 2017, and a rousing "Cheers," Salud, skål, Gānbēi, Εβίβα, or Na zdraví from Chicago roots duo The New Zeitgeist! How did you imagine your life in the year or 2017? What did you think you would be doing? What did you believe would be the social movements, or the roles of art at this time? Last New Year, I made a resolution to read a new poem each week. I'd like to share one from the renowned author T.S. Elliot that has inspired our story. He writes in 1919:
“No poet has meaning alone. His appreciation and significance is the direct relation to the dead poets and artists. If any artist should write, he should do so with all of the generations of literature in his bones!”
Our band name evolved from considering time...the times, critical points in time, and new eras. We not only hope to revive ageless stories that are especially meaningful today, but cultivate a spirit of connection. In a growing time of divide, disparity, and doubt, our music, sound, and stories are evolving and our latest recording effort has nearly come to completion!
Friends, we are proud to make the announcement of our 2nd upcoming album, Myths and Mortals, to be released early Spring 2017! It highlights poetry and folktales from nature and beyond while digging even deeper into the edgier roots of rock, folk, and blues. It features hometown heroes Gerald Dowd on drums and John Abbey on bass. Also featured on steel will be Austin City Limits Hall Of Fame member Lloyd Maines!
We are moved to have met you somehow along the way—because we believe art comes from a true encounter with another that leaves you changed. We are ecstatic and humbled to invite you to support our band by connecting with our band page on Facebook, as well as our new website where you can keep updated on our events, upcoming shows, and single release. Look for our new single, "Song of the Chattahoochee" end of January that will be available on our new website!
Our hope is to not only join some small part of renowned literary winds to which we owe everything, but join a new spirit of artists in creating the times ahead. We hope you and yours are renewed, inspired, and whole this coming year of 2017!!! Thanks for your amazing life as artists.
“Our story is never written in isolation. We do not act in a one-man play. We can do nothing that does not affect other people, no matter how loudly we say, "It's my own business.” ― Madeleine L'Engle
~Jen Reilly and Eddy Bluma, Chicago, IL