Widowspeak – “Girls” (Stereogum Premiere)

Every once in a while it really irks me that AOL pulled most of their now-defunct music sites from the internet, because one of the first interviews I ever did was a truly incredible interview with Widowspeak about their rock and roll hair inspirations for Spinner. Alas, it is lost to the ether, but thankfully for us, Widowspeak themselves are back with their flowing manes intact and another album full of languid and airy country-rock.

Widowspeak is Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas, a duo that Michael described as “shoegaze-folk” a few years back. I’m going to steal that and also suggest dream-country as another attempt to encapsulate the way they bring two very divergent styles together into a cohesive whole. They released both a full-length album and an EP in 2013, but last year was sadly barren of new music from them. Now, they’ve announced a new full-length called All Yours that will be out at the beginning of September.

Accompanying the announcement, the band shared a new track called “Girls,” and included an intimate, in-depth story about the underpinnings of this track that really moved me. Basically, it speaks to Hamilton’s fears about being a woman and an artist and feeling competitive — specifically with her younger peers. In the six-minute velvety reflection that follows, Hamilton’s voice pirouettes around this urge to compare, finally shrugging it off for kindness as Thomas strings along a sweet ribbon of a guitar solo, tying it off like a bow to finish the song. Read their missive about the track and hear it below.

“Girls” was first a voice memo I’d recorded on my phone. It pretty much stayed the same in terms of lyrics and melody, although we added instruments and everything later on when we were recording. That’s why it’s kind of simple; I was just singing what I was thinking at the time.

Maybe this is an experience not everyone has, but at certain points in my life I’ve felt really threatened by the achievements of younger peers. I’m not specifically talking about music and other bands or anything; I remember feeling it at certain times in grade school, definitely in college, and later at different jobs. It’s not about being jealous as much as feeling like I’m not doing enough, not as effective, or feeling like I’ve missed all these chances because I’m however much “older.”

So, the song’s partially about those insecurities, and realizing there’s no set window of opportunity, or time limit, or way of doing things that I need to adhere to. I say “girls,” and there are definitely specific people I’m thinking about, but that sentiment isn’t exclusive to other women or being a woman. But, I do think it is incredibly important for women/girls in particular to realize that we don’t have expiration dates.

There’s another level of the song, which is being afraid of people who are taking risks in their own lives, doing things that I wouldn’t, or can’t… and then turning that fear into judgement. It’s taken me a long time, and a lot of growing up, but I’m trying to be more appreciative of the ways other people work and create, and their aesthetic choices, and understanding how it can be inspiring and empowering even if it’s not something I want to do myself. This album is definitely the most “real” group of songs we’ve made.

We both had to take a step back from some things in our real lives, and get some perspective, sort things through. I feel a lot more vulnerable than I did about any of our other records, but even if it’s kind of nerve-racking to have it out in the world, it’s also a relief.

All Yours is out 9/4 via Captured Tracks. Pre-order it here.

[Photo by Shawn Brackbill]

Tags: Widowspeak