Widowspeak visits YES in support of their sixth album, The Jacket, which started out with loose strings of a concept, a story about a fictional band.
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 fifth album Plum, The Jacket feels like a full-circle moment for the duo of singer-songwriter Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas. Thematically, it considers Plum’s broader questions about the values ascribed to one’s time and labour 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.
Reunions always breed reflection, and Hamilton admits that much of the abandoned thematic concept is still inherently true, tied to formative experiences in the band’s own early years with removed observation.