Two years ago, Jenny Logan received a rather distressing email. All it said was, "Hi, how are you?" But coming from her father, that was cause enough for concern.
"I was like, 'Has your email been hacked?'" she says with a light chuckle. "'What's this about?'"
Growing up, Logan had what could be described, in the mildest terms, as a strained relationship with her dad. When she was 13 years old, he pulled her out of school and placed her under what she calls a form of "house arrest." He closely monitored everything she did, and even forbade her to speak; she still doesn't quite know why. (He was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder.) After a year sequestered indoors, Logan escaped. She eventually ran off to New York, where she fell into the city's music scene, and then to Portland, where she earned a law degree from Lewis & Clark College and helped co-found community radio station XRAY.FM.
Though she'd corresponded sporadically with her father in the years since leaving home, when that first email arrived, it'd been a decade since Logan had heard from him. After some prodding, she learned why he was suddenly reaching out: He'd been diagnosed with a rare blood disorder, and doctors were giving him only months to live. And just like that, he was back in her life.
It's a lot for any musician to unpack on a single album. But on her new record, Logan gives it a try anyway. Released under the name Deathlist, the self-titled album finds her sifting through complex emotions in simple language and minimalist compositions. Until now, Logan has been primarily a musician in other people's bands, most recently playing bass in Summer Cannibals. But for something so personal, she needed to go it alone. Other than a few drum tracks, she played everything herself.
"It's me trying to deal with what's going on," she says. "My dad's in my life suddenly, and he's dying, and I'm realizing I like him and care about him. Writing music is a way I process a lot of that stuff, so I started writing a lot of that stuff."
Against shadowy, lo-fi and often bass-driven arrangements, Logan struggles to process not just the damage wrought during her teenage years, but her compulsion to forgive and understand. "I will know you one day," she sings on opener "Wait" over a fuzzy riff and crashing drums, her voice shrouded in ghostly reverb, "when all your life melts away." That day has yet to come—despite his blood-disorder diagnosis, her father is still alive. But Logan has come to a few conclusions. And the most significant is that perhaps she and her father are not so different after all.
"It's been this weird mindfuck to see my dad and realize I identify with him a ton," Logan says. "Not on any specific level, but in a way I can't really articulate, it's obvious we're related."
SEE IT: Deathlist plays the Know, 3728 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-473-8729, with Bombay Beach and Point Juncture, WA, on Friday, April 7. 8 pm. Contact venue for ticket prices. 21+.