Perhaps you could sweep Seattle’s Evening Bell under that pesky, catch-all rug known as Americana. But that wouldn’t even begin to cover the unique, bizarre, utterly engaging mélange of influences that principal songwriters Caitlin Sherman and Hart Kingsbery bring to the band’s debut, Dying Stars.
Take, for example, “Strange Mama,” which Elmore is premiering today. On the surface, it sounds like a pretty straightforward country tune, Sherman’s sugary twang mixing with the cry of pedal steel. But the track isn’t a barroom, heartbreak ballad, and a distorted spaciousness creeps in around the edges, lending the track a truly psychedelic sensibility. Sherman’s self-identified “cosmic-cowboy punk” even wends its way into complex lyricism of the track. She tells Elmore about the emotional hardships she drew from for inspiration: “After going through a divorce, I found myself in the position of having to start completely over. At seemingly everything. My own band with my ex-husband had fallen apart with the relationship. Both socially and musically I had to build from the ground up.” She continues, “It was a time of deep sadness and also a burst of new creative energy. There was something both terrifying and exhilarating in this new life. But I did feel like my emotional scars were wearing me down, even as I began a new relationship. The new community of friends, other creative types, etc. was for the most part overwhelmingly supportive. But there will always be some critics/gate keepers that are not so quick to be accepting.”
The intense emotion of Sherman’s experience reverberates throughout the track, but her psychedelic fabrication of the titular character also points towards art’s ability to act as a panacea. ““Strange Mamma,” as a character, is built from many different matriarchs I’ve known over the years,” she explains. “A maternal protector and a mystic who sees through you and challenges you to be, well, better. Stronger. She knows the way to god and she knows the way to love and everything in its way’ because she exudes power. Adding “at least that’s what she’ll say,” because you’re not sure if it’s all an act. What’s interesting is a lot of people take it as a love song. That the narrator is talking to another man and he’s falling for this woman. I’m actually talking to myself.”
Dying Stars will be released August 12, 2016. Listen to “Strange Mamma” below, and connect with the band via their website.