Born and raised in New Mexico but now based in New York, “outlaw Americana” singer-songwriter Kate Vargas is challenging country music to expand its own horizons. On her latest track, “Second Skin,” featuring backing band The Reckless Daughters, Vargas digs deep for a swampy, muddled sound. The track punches and pulls with bluegrass rhythms sometimes stripped down to just a guitar line or drum beat, all leaning just a few steps back to let gritty vocals do their thing, telling a spooky story about New Mexico witches.
The music video accompanying “Second Skin,” premiering exclusively on Elmore, ventures away from the grime and grit of the song, offering an ambiguity that demands the audience’s interpretation. With simple, but elegant, cinematography, the video follows two contemporary dancers under strips of shadows and light, following sweeping, aggressive choreography, mostly individually, but eventually united.
The dancers are meant to emulate the concept of “predator vs. prey,” which is clear at times but at others “all you’re seeing is darkness and skin and it becomes harder to make the distinction,” Vargas says. The masks the dancers wear were designed by artist Lynda White. Though the video doesn’t include the laid-back, alcohol-slinging bar scene we might be visualizing when we listen to “Second Skin,” its intriguing nature provides a different perspective on an eerie, cryptic outlaw Americana track.
Catch Vargas at the Mansion on O Street in Washington DC on June 12th and watch the music video for “Second Skin” exclusively below.
- –Savannah Davanzo