Sarah Jaffe’s choice of a PJ Harvey cover for her Record Store Day single earlier this year with the Toadies was telling, but her lived-in-bars moan also slots alongside that of another rock heroine, Cat Power’s Chan Marshall. “Defense” is one of a couple of new songs Jaffe recently recorded with another fellow Texan, Midlake drummer McKenzie Smith. Producing, mixing, and also playing drums and adding synths, Smith coaxes a sound out of Jaffe and her band that harkens back to Cat Power’s synthier, slinkier turn on last year’s Essential album Sun.
In a statement, Jaffe says: “When I lived in Denton, McKenzie was among one of the many musicians that graciously supported me. He’s a good friend and I feel entirely comfortable and confident in the studio with him because I believe wholeheartedly in his ability as a musician and a producer.” She sings about how she’s reflexively defensive, but on the strength of “Defense,” she shouldn’t have to worry so much.