There’s a band starting to explode on the indie circuit, and they’re getting ready for a can’t-miss show at Chicago’s Hotel Lincoln.
Being captivated by music is a beautiful thing. But finding that perfect match usually takes some investigation. It requires an overlap between your philosophy and that of the band, your life experiences and theirs, and their astute expression of mood and experiences into music and song. Give Widowspeak a close listen—a band grappling through this life thing and expressing it expertly. Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas’ genre-unrestricted music is putting them at the forefront of today’s indie music scene.
Widowspeak is gearing up to release its third full-length album, All Yours (out September 4). In the meantime, the band has been touring and teasing fans with surprise releases. The first single off All Yours, “Girls,” was born out of a voice memo that Hamilton recorded on her phone. The lyrics and the meandering, folksy melody tell of her very common insecurities: of not being good enough, of not having done enough, of being “too old,” of missed chances. Hamilton sings in a way that speaks of reflection, not regret. Similarly, the album’s title track is gentle and comforting, even as Hamilton sings about a breakup that clearly isn’t mutual.
We’re sensing a pattern here about moving on. Widowspeak invites the listener to move (or be moved) with them. The road is lined with beautifully timed, airy guitar riffs and breathy, languid vocals. It’s fitting that the last stop on the band’s tour is the 13th floor of Hotel Lincoln in Chicago for Joie de Vivre Hotels’ Good Measure Tour. Up that high, at the J. Parker, Thomas’ finger-plucked solos will wrap fans in a calm, unobtrusive surround sound. Hamilton’s voice, on the other hand, is made to steal away in the wind, her lyrics said and then let go—her version of that written email that you never sent.
In anticipation of the show on August 25, we talked with Hamilton about the origin of Widowspeak and its modern folk-meets-indie sound.
What’s behind the name?
Molly Hamilton: Initially, it was meant to be widow’s peak (two words). I just liked the two words together and the fact that it had both a colloquial and maybe some literal meaning—a mountain belonging to a widow? As a band, we thought it would be good as one word, making it sort of vague. Also, it sounds sort of like a metal band.
What time period and genre of music has influenced you?
MH: I think I’m most influenced by ’50s and ’60s rock ‘n’ roll and country, and ’90s alternative. The former [sounds] have been the most consistent since we started the band. The latter is such a huge part of my musical upbringing and growth; it’s the stuff I never get tired of. There’s so much music I love from the ’90s. It spans from obscure indie stuff to huge radio hits.
Do you have a pre-show ritual? We heard you had stage fright for a while. How do you get over that?
MH: I definitely had awful stage fright, and I’m still not much of a performer in terms of totally letting loose. I love writing and playing music; it’s just the audience part that is problematic. Even singing in front of the band was hard at first. It’s gotten better with time. The best thing to do is just keep doing it. Work your way up to a point where it’s comfortable. It’s taken me, like, hundreds of shows and five years, but I’m actually (finally) having fun performing.
Any winding-down techniques you have for after the show?
MH: Whiskey. Playing [the board game] Catan.
Widowspeak on tour in Vienna, 2011, via Wikipedia
All Yours album art, courtesy of Widowspeak via Facebook