The Ecstatic Catharsis of “Staring Into Heaven/Shining” by Bitter Widows

Bitter Widows is one in every of my favourite bands.

Once I first heard them on my native school radio station a number of years in the past, I used to be instantly captivated by their mixture of delicate harmonies, lush guitars, and deft and driving rhythms. Grunge, people, shoegaze, indie rock – they seamlessly combine these totally different components right into a coherent entire that pulsates with life, tenderness, and a no-bullshit perspective.

Their music is passionate and private, but skillful and exact. It’s the type of music you will get misplaced in, dreamy, but on the identical time often exploding right into a sonorous cacophony that releases some inside fury you didn’t know you had.

That is actual music, made by actual folks, expressing actual feelings.

Their newest single, “Staring Into Heaven/Shining,” is a cathartic 8-minute journey via grief, written by co-frontwoman Susanna Thomson after the demise of her mom from a uncommon type of most cancers. The track is available in items, vignettes that trace at different makes an attempt to make sense of such an excellent and sudden loss.

The track reaches a climax a couple of minutes in, with a few of the most direct and heartrending lyrics in fashionable indie rock:

If all my anger
And my ache
May catch like a flame
And purify
And cremate
Possibly I may very well be alive
Know that you simply’re protected
And you are feeling me
We talk
Past God, past doubt

Later within the track, Thomson recollects an virtually unbearably poignant second mendacity subsequent to her mom on her deathbed, the place a momentary feeling of peace is interrupted by morning mild and songbirds, and he or she realizes she is “dropping all of it.” At this level, the guitars take over, and for the ultimate three minutes of the track, the interaction of Thomson and bandmate Maia Sinaiko’s uncooked, but elegant guitar riffs fill in an emotional house that may’t be resolved with phrases.

In an announcement in regards to the track, Thomson wrote: “It wasn’t till after ending the track that I noticed there will be hope in accepting that there are issues we can not learn about demise.”

The unrushed, unvarnished instrumental ending looks like an homage, an elegy, and an emotional launch unexpectedly. On the identical time, it’s a testomony to the longtime bandmates and buddies’ synergistic artistry and talent to make one thing coherent out of one thing unfathomable. Having seen them carry out stay, I can say they’re the true deal: musicians and songwriters that maintain nothing again, utilizing all their technical and emotional capability to speak the essence of their songs. Right here the essence appears to be the facility of merely witnessing ache, whether or not one’s personal or one other’s.

Thomson writes, “As I attempted and did not reconcile emotions of remorse and unanswerable questions, it grew to become clearer to me that each one I can do is select to easily observe the expertise of grief.” In sharing this deeply private track, Thomson offers the listener the chance to easily observe the outpouring of grief: at occasions volcanic, at occasions laconic.

In a world of pretense and artificiality, this realness looks like a uncommon reward.

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