“As this music is born, I am flying free,” singer/songwriter Essence Goldman says of her summer release, Black Wings. Goldman is sixth-generation San Franciscan, raised and encouraged in her artistic pursuits by her two flower children parents, who lived at the Haight-Ashbury during the Summer of Love. Since winning the Grand Prize in the National Lilith Fair Talent Search in 1998, she has had a number of successes, including record deals with RCA Records, Way Cool/MCA Records and Or Music and opening slots with Tom Petty, Jason Mraz, Shawn Colvin, Sarah McLachlan, Pat Benatar and many more. In the wake of her 2009 release, Feels Like the Future, she won both the Grand Prize for the Great American Song Contest and second place in the International Songwriting Contest.
But throughout these career highs, she was covering the secret pain of her home life, and it took a brutally honest period of reflection to exercise those demons through her art. As the songwriting for Black Wings consumed her, it saved her, opening her eyes to the reality of what was going on in a relationship fueled by abuse and addiction.
Today, Elmore is premiering Goldman’s video for “Camels n’ Diesel,” a powerful single that rips open the wounds of her marriage with searing, sultry vocals and the electric twang of guitars. Essence shares the powerful and all-too-real story behind the track and video:
“This is a very personal song to me. It’s based around actual events surrounding a (real) fire that burned my house down in the summer of 2012. ‘Diesel’ refers to the inflammatory climate in my home for the better part of the five years leading up to the fire. ‘Camels’ refers to the brand of cigarettes that started the fire. Writing and recording “Camels n’ Diesel” served as a lifeline to my survival during a very dark life passage.
I was left sleeping in the burning building by the person I thought loved me most. I thought I could leave, but shortly thereafter a phoenix rose and my daughter was born. It took me three more years to get myself free, but this song was the beginning. The fire was a symbol of a change that needed to happen. An event that could not be ignored. A past that could not be returned to. A pattern of behavior that could not continue. A new beginning.”
The video is a visceral depiction of a relationship that is both intensely passionate and clearly dangerous. The shift between clean shots, almost like something out of a romance novel, with the rugged bad boy and his cowgirl, are contrasted with shaky, raw, unsettling footage of Goldman, alone. The track builds into a tremendous swell of fury, with a echoing chant of voices behind Goldman’s impassioned howl: “that’s us in the ashes, that’s us in the coal.”
Keep up with Essence via her website, and catch her in New York City at a Sofar Sounds show on November 14th and at Rockwood Music Hall on the 15th. Watch the video for “Camels and Diesel” below.