Erika Wennerstrom gets a sense of renewal from the cyclical nature of life as a recording artist.
For the front woman and creative force of blues-rockers the Heartless Bastards, their new album “Arrow” notches several new developments while hitting a familiar target.
“I'm a big fan of all kinds of different styles of music, and I think part of the fun in writing an album is just exploring all the different musical interests I have or influences. I mean, I never want to make the same album twice. I'm certainly gonna always have the initial influences that I've had. But I'd like to think that with each album that the band's had that there's always been something that kind of makes it have a Heartless Bastards sound even though each album is different,” Wennerstrom said in a recent phone interview from her adopted hometown of Austin, Texas.
“Arrow” marks the first album from the Heartless Bastards' new lineup of Wennerstrom, drummer Dave Colvin and bassist Jesse Ebagh — both of whom played on the Bastards' first-ever demo recordings back in 2003 — and guitarist Mark Nathan, who initially came on board as the group's sound man but later transformed the three-piece band into a rock quartet.
In addition, the Valentine's Day release is the band's debut on fledgling Partisan Records and first collaboration with producer Jim Eno, best known as the drummer of pop-rockers Spoon.
“I don't know if I look in a sense to reinvent, but I think that as an artist of any form, you want to grow and learn and try new things. I think without trying new things it can give you that stagnant feeling. For me to enjoy what I do, it's experimenting and trying new things and just hoping people respond to it,” Wennerstrom said.
After releasing their 2006 sophomore studio effort “All This Time,” the group went through a shake-up when Wennerstrom, 35, and then-bassist Mike Lamping ended their romantic relationship. The singer-songwriter moved from her native Ohio to Austin and hired session musicians to record the group's third album, 2009's “The Mountain,” which showcased a rootsier, more reflective sound. In January 2009, she hit the road with her current group, who will play Thursday at The Opolis in Norman.
“We all get along as people really well, and we all worked together musically really well. It just feels really natural. I think when we worked on this album, having known each other and worked together for several years, it just kind of made the whole process work so very smoothly,” she said.