WIDOWSPEAK – share new single
SHARE THIRD SINGLE / VIDEO “THE JACKET” – LISTEN / WATCH HERE
SIXTH STUDIO ALBUM “THE JACKET” OUT MARCH 11 VIA CAPTURED TRACKS
PRE-ORDER / PRE-SAVE THE JACKET – HERE
Today, Widowspeak share “The Jacket”, the title track off their forthcoming sixth studio album, to be released March 11 via Captured Tracks. In signature Widowspeak style, “The Jacket” builds on repetition and live room energy as the same chords start to change shape and hypnotize over time. Molly Hamilton croons “no no no, you could never let it go”, speaking to both a physical jacket and its embodiment of an old self. The song’s video, directed by OTIUM, features Robert Earl Thomas as a satin-clad protagonist making his way through a southwest cityscape in a series of vignettes both surreal and mundane. He carries a jacket with him while killing time, pressing his luck with a roll of the dice and curiously engaging with the world he encounters before running to escape it. Amidst the desert sunset, “The Jacket” is forgotten and the dice buried: a swarm of ants where they once were. Watch it here.
Widowspeak on “The Jacket” – “The Jacket is about things we choose, dress up in and adopt as symbols of who we are. Things that become objects loaded with meaning until we eventually lose or discard them, grow out of them. It’s a literal jacket in the song, and in the context of the storyline represents all the cliches (imagined and real) of being in a band, rock and roll, youth, projecting “cool” (or thinking you do), and believing in the power of symbols and costume to help find and define your true self. Eventually you move on from the moment, and the sorts of places and experiences and relationships tied to that time, when The Jacket was your favorite thing in the world and felt like a part of you. It’s hard to let go. But you notice you aren’t that person anymore. “The Jacket”, and everything it represented, was left behind somewhere along the way.
“The Jacket” started out with loose strings of a concept, a story about a fictional band:
A chain-stitcher working in the satin district of an unnamed city, a neighborhood of storefront tailors devoted to elaborate costumery for country-western, art rock, ye-ye cover bands that populate the street’s bars after dark. The narrator joins one such outfit, “Le Tex” and feels a sense of belonging and momentum, movement beyond what was previously a stable, predictable life. A relationship with a bandmate materializes. Eventually, the group start to write originals. They generate goodwill and momentum, and venture out on the open road seeking new opportunities beyond what the satin district can offer. But the vibrational energy that got things moving is the same that shakes the whole thing apart: the relationship, and the band, disintegrate upon finally reaching their destination, the end of the road. The chain-stitcher heads back to the city, settling back into the rhythm of work, old standards and a familiar place.
The story is self-referential on purpose: it speaks to the absurdity of ego, codependency and shared visions even as it celebrates them. “The Jacket” finds Widowspeak navigating these contradictions, and although its ten tracks now trace a more abstract arc than the campier initial concept, strands of that earlier narrative remain: “stitches in satin”, American cities after dark, glimpses of the open road, dark bars, and backstages where things get left behind. The resulting album is a wizened meditation on performance and past lives from a band who’ve seen their fair share, hitting their stride now over a decade in.
Written in the months before and after the release of their critically acclaimed 2020 album Plum, “The Jacket” feels like a full-circle moment for the duo. Thematically, it considers Plum’s broader questions about the values ascribed to one’s time and labor through the more refined lens of performance and music-making. This is due in part to the band’s recent return to New York City, the site of their own origin story, where they recorded “The Jacket” at the Diamond Mine with co-producer and noted Daptone Records affiliate Homer Steinweiss. In addition to Hamilton and Thomas on guitars, the album features founding drummer Michael Stasiak, as well as J.D. Sumner on bass, and piano and keyboard contributions from Michael Hess.
Sonically, “The Jacket” finds the band at their usual and best: the album breathes deeply, balancing moments of open lushness with a straightforward, Velvets-y approach. Dynamics shift seamlessly between gentle, drifting ballads and twangy jams, built up from layered guitars, dusty percussion and ambling bass lines. Elsewhere: whimsical flutes, choral textures, and basement organs. Thomas’s guitar playing is as lyrical and emotive as it’s ever been, and Hamilton’s voice: comfortable and effortless. This seamless dynamic is amplified perfectly in the mix by Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beach House). The band still wears the same perennial influences on its sleeve: cornerstones like Yo La Tengo, Neil Young, Cowboy Junkies, Cat Power, and Richard and Linda Thompson. They expertly pepper in slow-core, dream-pop, pacific northwest indie, and outlaw country, resulting in a 60s-meets-90s aesthetic. But the duo also wield their own aesthetic feedback loop as a tool of its own, a way to better tell multi-layered stories in their own RIYL language. This sense of sonic nostalgia adds another layer to lyrics that reflect on old selves, invented and true.
“The Jacket” is a present and comfortable record, imbued with a sense of collective pause and the ease of a band at the top of their game. For all its familiar textures, it still feels entirely fresh within that canon: proudly a guitar record, a rock record, a songwriter’s record. A Widowspeak record.