Back in 2014, we mentioned Eight Houses by She Keeps Bees, describing the record as “no one thing,” arguing that “to limit itself to fragile, or gritty, or happy or sad, would be limit its ability to depict believable stories and emotions. The narrator is vulnerable,” we concluded, “but knows everyone else is too.” The Brooklyn based duo, AKA Jessica Larrabee and Andy LaPlant, have a new album on the way. Kinship will be their first full-length record since 2014, and promises to see them once again explore the nuances of existence, this time turning their focus to “our current shared social and environmental woes, but from a learned vantage point.”
First single ‘Coyote’ makes good on this in itself, dedicated to folk singer, actress and environmental activist Katie Lee. It’s a song that’s stark and powerful, Larrabee’s voice ringing around slashes of guitar and mournful strings. Again, the emotional range is wide, the tone possessing both a bluesy swagger and burning anger, ferocity born of an intimate understanding of the fragility of things.
Lyrically, the focus is on Lee’s campaign to protect the natural world, in particular her stance opposing the damming of the Colorado River. “Carved by rain, by rivers, by streams,” Larrabee sings, “Flood the canyons, drown everything, ignore the rules of balance.” If there is a futility to the words then it is balanced by fury, Larrabee like some harbinger of doom whose warning far surpasses any single dam.
The accompanying video collects footage of Lee shot by filmmaker Natalie Gignoux and held in the Cline Library Special Collections and Archives, making for a fitting companion.