The National frontman Matt Berninger has released his debut solo album, Serpentine Prison.
Berninger has long been active separate of his work with the Dessner and Devendorf brothers in The National, having sung with CHVRCHES and Phoebe Bridgers, among others, and released an album with Menomena’s Brent Knopf as EL VY. But Serpentine Prison marks his first full-length solo statement.
The record took shape initially as a covers album in the vein of Willie Nelson’s 1978 LP Stardust, which was a favorite of Berninger’s father. Berninger approached Booker T Jones, who also produced Stardust, and before long their collaboration turned into a collection of original compositions which stand apart from The National’s material in its more straightforward, though no less appealing, instrumentation.
“Often when I’m writing, I’m writing songs that I wish someone else would sing to me – be it Nina Simone or the people I love,” Berninger recently told NME of his approach to songwriting. “Most of my songs are love songs to myself or that champion me. They’re cheerleading songs for my own soul. I’m writing things that I suspect Carin [Berninger’s wife] would like to say to me. You know, ‘I hope my daughter understands me,’ ‘my mother will know this is about her.’ They’re not just about me; they’re about the people that made me… me.”
Listen to Serpentine Prison here: