Fans of earnest, acoustic indie-pop, wake up–this is your stop. Today marks the release of Sleeping On A Bus, a split album by Chicago singer-songwriters Jungheim and Olivia Hudson, on Beach Cats Records. As Hudson explains, the record is a long-awaited step in what has already been a productive musical relationship.
“I’ve wanted to do a split album with Jungheim for the past two and a half years or so. We’ve collaborated on quite a few songs together–‘Surface Level’ on her EP Novella, ‘Exhilaration’ on The Ninth House, etc.–and doing a split felt natural.”
Building on that established rapport, the overriding vibe of the sessions–recorded at Jungheim’s home studio, Hodgepodge Recordings–was one of comfort, something that permeates the sound of the album and gives it its title.
“Sleeping On A Bus came from a therapist session I had over the summer, funny enough,” says Jungheim. “I was with Liv, and the challenge was to describe our relationship in as few words as possible. My immediate thought was ‘sleeping on a bus at the end of the route, when nobody else is on the bus and all you can hear is the hum of the engine as it reaches the depot.’”
Against that comfortable backdrop, Hudson took the opportunity to explore some uncomfortable songwriting territory. Starting with the achingly candid spoken word intro of “Jenn II,” she traces her insecurity back to its still-raw roots.
“Originally, I thought all the songs on my side would relate to the event that inspired ‘Jenn II,’” she says. “As time went on and I processed that, I realized it was connected to an older, deeper, very impactful trauma. In the end, all of my songs on the split revolve around that in some way.”
Trauma comes to a head in the second track, “Hoes Listen to Elliot Smith Once and Forget How to Act (I’m Hoes),” but through unpacking and confronting it, Hudson finds a way forward.
“It was comforting to name my feelings–though the intensity of them was scary, hence the meme title of the second song–and it was healthy to make connections between current situations and how they’re influenced by the past,” she says.
For Jungheim, the collaborative atmosphere also influenced the album’s spare, natural production.
“Working by yourself honestly presents challenges of self-doubt and even slacking off,” she says. “Having Liv working with me really pushed me in the most organic way possible to finish my end of things.”
That led Jungheim to record as minimally as possible, using her very first take for the guitar and vocals of “Change My Ways,” a soft and soulful ode to self-worth. Above all, the finished album proves great things happen when you make art with people you care about.
“It’s with someone I have a deep love for; our level of understanding and respect for one another just made things very easy,” says Jungheim.
You can hear that ease in each of the resulting nine tracks–from Hudson’s warm, enveloping guitar on the one side to Jungheim’s gentle, contented vocals on the other and a double dose of heart all the way through.
Sleeping On A Bus is available to stream on all platforms, including each artist’s individual Bandcamp page.