With the likes of Rachel Price, Calin Peters, and Anna Fox Rochinski, there’s no shortage of retro, soulful female voices in Boston. Jenna Lotti is no exception. Lotti’s music is bluesy and robust, but with a little touch of twang, calling upon equal parts of 60s songstresses and classic country voices. Beyond genre names, Lotti describes it as substantial, versatile, and catchy.
Her new EP, Bad Habits, is her second release since 2014’s Tunnel Vision. While songs like “Masochist” from Tunnel Vision showcase the vibrancy of Lotti’s voice, Bad Habits digs its heels in, adding a warmly welcomed edge. The title track kicks off the EP with a chunky guitar riff and stomp-along drums. A slight underscoring of synth and harmonies add a lightness to the song, and “Bad Habits” finds its stride in Lotti’s lyrics and the bite she gives them.
Lotti said she is “drawn to the feeling of soul/blues music, the emotional aspect of it, especially in the vocals for me, that stops you in your tracks.” She allows her music, rather than the lyrical content, to drive her sound, resulting in sunny pop tracks that contain darker, raw lyrics. This was an intentional decision, as Tunnel Vision had a more somber tone. “If we made “Bad Habits,” “My Oh My,” or “Drive” into ballads, they would be sad so we chose to make them brighter and more upbeat.”
Aside from her own bad habits, like shopping too much or watching too much TV, Lotti said, “I got the idea for [“Bad Habits”] when I was going through a rough patch and I was feeling pretty down about myself. So the idea came from a much deeper place but came out in a lighter way.” She co-wrote the song with her producer, Susan Cattaneo.
Lotti has released music videos for “Bad Habits” and “Drive,” which is a rumination on the songwriting process and what role music plays in Lotti’s life. But Bad Habits is fueled by a fierceness we learn through the other tracks on the EP. Though only four tracks long, Bad Habits provides a clear road map to Lotti’s style.
And length is a strength in Lotti’s case. “I grew up listening to albums so I like to create bodies of work rather than just putting out singles which has become the new norm these days,” she said.
The closing track “Passenger Seat” calls upon the bad girl attitude for growling vocal riffs accompanied by cymbal-driven percussion. There’s even a touch of Amy Winehouse in the jazziness of the vocals and the backing horns. “Life looks so sweet from the passenger seat,” Lotti croons. The song packs a rightfully placed frustration with those who turn a judgmental eye. “Practice what you preach from the passenger seat,” she sings.
You can stream the EP below: