| Jensen McRae Signs to Dead Oceans and shares new single "Massachusetts" -

Jensen McRae Signs to Dead Oceans and shares new single “Massachusetts”

Posted on 06/12/2024

LA based songwriter and musician Jensen McRae has shared new single ‘Massachusetts’, and announced her signing to Dead Oceans (Mitski, Phoebe Bridgers, Khruangbin). Also announced is a UK live show at St Pancras Old Church, London, on 7th August, with tickets on sale Friday, 14th June.

“I don’t have main character syndrome,” McRae says, “so much as I have narrator syndrome.” Her songwriting often begins with the smallest snippet, overheard words or phrases that light up a title or a concept. It’s conversational, interactive in how it often sparks from the people and places around her. It also shows up in McRae’s output, which is prolific, generous, and blisteringly unafraid of failure.

“Massachusetts” began as a short social post, one of many she has shared in pretty much realtime. It spawned numerous covers, interpretations, duets and even titles – the song became known as #videogames or #christianbale by growing hordes of fans imagining completed versions – before finally arriving as McRae’s first release on Dead Oceans.

What leaps out first on “Massachusetts” is a soft but weary feeling, the longing and lingering that comes after heartbreak. What follows, though, is effervescent: the lightness of healing, the freedom to remember what was good about being together. Ahead of its release, fans were already singing the song back to McRae across arenas, where she was on tour supporting Noah Kahan. While McRae was hesitant to make something more of the song at first, ultimately, she decided to complete it, setting out to “honor the original impulse” without over-attending to it. She’s quick to acknowledge that tension. “I’m not a perfectionist,” McRae says, “but I don’t want to put something out there that doesn’t feel true to me, or true to what it is.” McRae ultimately finished “Massachusetts” while on tour, deep in that mode of impermanence, before recording the studio version with producer Brad Cook (Waxahatchee, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Bon Iver).


Born and raised in LA, Jensen McRae has studied and made music for most of her life. She attended Grammy Camp in high school and graduated from USC’s Thornton School of Music with a degree in Popular Music. McRae’s debut album, Are You Happy Now?, was written mostly when she was just 21, and explored what she describes as her “musical coming of age.” Again, here, McRae’s talents as a narrator loom large; Are You Happy Now? navigates identity from its deepest foundations – life as a young, bi-racial Black and Jewish woman – to its most personal musings – do I trust you, do I trust myself. McRae is working toward her next album, due to come out next year, and she knows the breadth of that collection carries a different heft. “I’ve lived a lot more, and have a lot more experience to share,” she says. “The record will touch on those moments that are harder, less healed. But before we pull back the curtain,” McRae continues, “it feels right to touch on this hopeful moment.”

Self-described as “one house down from the girl next door”, McRae has been compared to artists like Tracy Chapman or Phoebe Bridgers, and with good reason. Her voice is dynamic, her melodies are immediate, almost addictive. Most of all, the blunt force of Jensen McRae’s songs is in the stories they tell, and in the ways they invite you to see, feel, and hear yourself within them. It’s this skill that makes “Massachusetts”, and McRae, so easy to love.

Tour Dates (new dates in bold):

25 June – Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre – Englewood, CO*
26 June – Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre – Englewood, CO*
29 June – The Gorge – George, WA*
01 July – RV Inn Style Resorts Amphitheatre – Ridgefield, WA*
03 July – Toyota Amphitheatre – Wheatland, CA*
05 July – Greek Theatre – Berkeley, CA*
06 July – Greek Theatre – Berkeley, CA*
09 July – Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre – West Valley City, UT*
13 July – Alpine Valley Music Theatre – East Troy, WI*
07 Aug – St Pancras Old Church – London, UK

* Supporting Noah Kahan