Originally from Adelaide, Cloher moved to Sydney to pursue a degree at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. Following her graduation, Cloher instead decided to begin playing music as opposed to continuing with acting. Her first EP, Permanent Marker, was released via Shiny Records in 2005. Until 2012, this would be the only release bearing solely Cloher's name.
Her debut album, 2006's Dead Wood Falls, was released under the moniker Jen Cloher And The Endless Sea, a collective of musicians that originally included drummer Jen Sholakis, bassist "Lord" Geoffrey Dunbar, guitarist Michael Hubbard, pianist Ross Calia and violinist Andrea Summer. The album’s single, "Rain" found itself on high rotation on Triple J; while Cloher herself was nominated for Best Female Artist at the 2006 ARIA Music Awards. Its follow-up, 2009’s Hidden Hands, was inspired by Cloher’s loss of her mother through Alzheimer’s and garnered great critical acclaim. Calia and Sumner were replaced by Laura Jean and Biddy Connor, respectively; while also adding guitarist Tom Healy (Tiny Ruins) to the line-up.
Following a solo tour with Jordie Lane, Cloher once again took an extended hiatus from music. With the loss of both of her parents at the end of 2011 she re-emerged in 2012, releasing a duet with former Kid Sam frontman Kieran Ryan entitled "Call if You Need Me." It was released in May of that year. In October, Cloher released "Mount Beauty," the first single from her then-yet-to-be-titled third album. It was released as a limited-edition split seven-inch, with the flipside containing Courtney Barnett’s song "History Eraser." The month prior, Cloher had recorded a new album at Melbourne’s Headgap Studios. Her band consisted of Barnett, Sholakis and bassist Bones Sloane.
To support the album’s release, Cloher began a crowdfunding campaign. With a target of $15,000; the total amount on the closing date of 26 March 2013 was $16,546. The album, entitled In Blood Memory, was released in late May 2013 via Milk Records and was shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize.
In August 2013 Cloher collaborated with Mia Dyson and Liz Stringer as Dyson, Stringer & Cloher. Releasing a tour EP through Milk! Records, they completed a 35 date tour of Australia including Tennant Creek, Alice Springs, Hobart and Perth.
In January 2014, Cloher won a Victorian Music Management Award. Later that year, Cloher would release a new single of songs not featured on In Blood Memory - "Stone Age Brain," featuring Tim Rogers on guest vocals; and "Sad Dark Eyes." The CD has since sold out and gone out of print. This was followed up in 2015 with another split seven-inch from Cloher and Barnett - Cloher's side featured another new song, "Needle in the Hay," while Barnett's was a new song entitled "Swan Street Swagger." Only 500 copies of the seven-inch were made, with no repressing done.
In 2016, Cloher was featured on a new Milk! Records compilation entitled Good for You. The EP featured a new original song from Cloher, Barnett, The Finks, Ouch My Face, East Brunswick All Girls Choir and Fraser A. Gorman. All six acts would go on a collaborative national tour together in support of the EP, in which members of other groups would get up and collaborate with one another and eventually all come on stage for a final jam session. Later that year, Cloher announced that Dead Wood Falls was to be released on vinyl for the very first time to celebrate the album's 10-year anniversary. The release was also supported by two reunion shows of the original line-up of Jen Cloher and The Endless Sea that October, which took place at the Northcote Social Club in Melbourne and the Newtown Social Club in Sydney.
In June 2017, it was announced that Cloher's fourth album, which is self-titled, was to be released by Milk! Records in August. The album was recorded in Jumbunna, a small town in South Gippsland approximately 130km south-east of Melbourne. It was produced by Greg Walker, AKA J Walker of Machine Translations. Guests on the album include The Drones guitarist and former Barnett collaborator Dan Luscombe and American singer-songwriter Kurt Vile. Cloher's band remains the same as it did on the In Blood Memory record. Cloher will tour the album through Australia in August, before travelling to the U.S. to serve as the opening act for Barnett and Vile's co-headlining tour.
Cloher currently lives in Melbourne with her wife Courtney Barnett. They have sung several songs together, including "Numbers", a song about their relationship and their age difference (Cloher is 14 years the elder).Permanent Marker EP (2005)
Dead Wood Falls LP (with The Endless Sea) (2006)
Hidden Hands LP (with The Endless Sea) (2009)
Mount Beauty b/w History Eraser 7" (with Courtney Barnett) (2012)
In Blood Memory LP (2013)
Dyson Stringer Cloher EP (with Mia Dyson and Liz Stringer) (2013)
Stone Age Brain (feat. Tim Rogers) b/w Sad Dark Eyes single (2014)
Needle in the Hay b/w Swan Street Swagger 7" (with Courtney Barnett) (2015)
Good for You EP (with Milk! Records) (2016)
Jen Cloher LP (2017) No. 5 AUS