In times of uncertainty and confusion, anger and fear, resentment and distrust, few things cut through the din better than a voice and a guitar. In the case of Milwaukee singer-songwriter Lisa Gatewood, that powerful combo has been sorely missed. Gatewood, whose first album of sepia-toned folk was released in 2007, has been relatively quiet since 2012’s Midway. Now, in true Beyonce-like fashion, she’s dropped a surprise album: The four-song When It’s The End, You Feel It In Your Bones is an intimate, heartbreaking EP, made all the more poignant by a dedication to—and an appearance by—a fallen friend.
“Everything was recorded in the spare bedroom at my house,” Gatewood says. “In that way, my music career has been a little Benjamin Button: going from a full album in a fancy studio, to a shorter album recorded in a one room basement studio, to a four-track album recorded in my spare bedroom. Logic would dictate that my next album will be one song recorded on a cell phone in a bathroom.”
When It’s The End is dedicated to sorely missed Milwaukee musician Ben Cervenka, who died in October 2014. Gatewood and Cervenka were frequent collaborators, and one of their Cervenka-penned collaborations, “Questions,” appears on When It’s The End. Gatewood explains:
“After Ben passed away, his mom, Anne, sent me a CD with some of his music on it. One of the tracks was recorded in my old apartment when Ben came over to teach me his new song ‘Questions.’ It was a sweet back and forth between two people getting to know each other. He and I went on to perform it together at a few shows along with a duet I wrote for us called ‘Tiny Boat.’ The recording on the CD from his mom wasn’t the best. I was just learning the song, so it’s riddled with wrong notes and silent laughter. But also on the CD was a solo version he had recorded, probably when he wrote the song. With his mom’s blessing, I used that version to sing with him again.”