“Believe me, after failure comes flight,” Princess Kosmonopolis tells the aspiring actor Chance Wayne in Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth, as an eerie lament fills the coastal air. “Nothing ever comes after failure but flight.”
Sometimes, though, there isn’t anywhere to fly; people get stuck where they are, and when that happens they look for different ways to escape and find their salvation in something else. Sometimes they fly away only to fly back again. These are the stories that Jaimee Harris is interested in telling.
“This is what it’s like to be a part of the post-‘Born to Run’ generation,” she says, addressing the characters that inhabit the sets of her own small town minidramas; the vivid portraits of rural desperation and restlessness that make up the songs on her forthcoming album, Boomerang Town. “Springsteen’s generation had somewhere to run. I’m not so sure mine does.”
The latest taste of the album comes with ‘The Fair and Dark Haired Lad’. A pulsing Appalachian folk ballad that grapples with the seductive nature of alcohol and the addictions that all too often go along with it. With its lilting violins and stylised take on Celtic-tinged Americana, it brings to mind the folksy rock of Desire era Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball, and ends up sounding like Polly Harvey fronting The Chicks.
“He crept through the boards, hid behind the door,” Harris sings, a sense of unease building as the titular character takes the place of her father at the dinner table. “Now he ain’t got a reason to hide no more.”
"I was invited to participate in a great co-writing workshop in Lafayette,” Harris explains about how the song came about. “On the last day, I was set up with Dirk Powell and Katrine Noel. We very quickly got into a discussion about generational addiction and Dirk brought in the idea of using the character 'The Fair and Dark Haired Lad' to represent the alluring, insidious nature of alcoholism."
Taken from her forthcoming album, the song is part of an ambitious song-cycle that explores the generational arc of family, the stranglehold of addiction and the fragile ties that hold Americans together, tracing the fortunes and misfortunes of a colourful cast of small-town characters caught between hope and hopelessness.
The video is premiering exclusively at Holler below.
The stunning video was filmed and edited by Anana Kaye and Irakli Gabriel. They talked Holler through some of the ideas behind the video.
"When an artist whom you deeply respect and admire asks you to create a visual accompaniment to their song, it's both inspiring and a little intimidating,” explained Gabriel. “As songwriters and musicians ourselves, Anana and I have to take great care to let the visuals flow naturally with the song. The idea is to create a little work of visual art that stands on its own two feet and yet is seamlessly interwoven with the music and lyrics, allowing them to shine while hopefully adding an extra element of the unexpected for the viewer and listener.
“It was a standout to us right away,” he continues. “Jaimee delivers the lyrics with a chilling directness that reveal the mystery behind them just enough, while allowing the imagination to do the rest. 'The Lad' is a metaphor for some kind of daemon, a dark force that can seduce you and take you to the places you would not wish on your worst enemy.”
“Dorian Gray and the Cabinet of Dr Caligari turned out to be the common inspirations on which we kept landing while trying to figure out which direction to take and which mental images to follow.”
“It's an exhilarating and rewarding feeling when the songwriter is happy with the result of your efforts in the visual realm,” he says. “In this case we hope we created something that will provide just the necessary amount of terror and discomfort for the viewer to go with Jaimee's great song.”
Boomerang Town is released on February 17th via Thirty Tigers. Click here to preorder and presave.