“I was trying to express the sound of femininity as a strength that’s not in relation to men. It’s not even related to the male energy, the idea is what is a pure feminine spirit.” — Emily Haines on Choir of the Mind (Rolling Stone)
Who knew that, in 2017, women would still be having to fight for the power to control their own bodies. Being a woman can be an exhaustive experience. It is within that, that we find our strength, our willpower, our tenacity and our heart. Choir of the Mind is Emily Haines’ second album with her solo project The Soft Skeleton. In 13 tracks, Haines examines what it is to be a woman and the power we have in our adversity.
Choir of the Mind was produced by Haines and Metric guitarist Jimmy Shaw who also mixed the record. Recorded in Toronto in late 2016 — the majority on a grand piano from the 19th century aptly dubbed “The Matriarch” — it is an explorative narrative into femininity; the labels and misconceptions thrown our way. We don’t have to be soft, we don’t have to be tough. We don’t have to be anything we’re not and knowing that what we are, however we are, is the key to happiness.
“Before you knew me,
I’d dive from the roof
I’d swing from the trees
and hang from the moon.”
[LEGEND OF THE WILD HORSE]
Opening track “Planets”’ layered vocals gives credence to the album title, backed only by crawling piano. The poetic lyrics Haines has made a name for herself with are present in each track of the album, from beginning to end, “Planets’” story being the grand, catatonic entrée. Life isn’t always linear, and that’s okay.
The first song that was released as a single from the record was “Fatal Gift” and may be the most Metric-style track on the record. Metric and the Soft Skeleton are entirely different outfits, the only similarity between being the writer and the singer. The lyrics sing of feelings our generation knows too well and breaking free of our material possessions the way no-or-every God intended.
Emily Haines has always been more than the frontwoman of an indie rock band who sits behind a keyboard, playing well, but it’s in Choir of the Mind that she’s established her voice as a sound, a feeling, an overall power. As she sings in “Legend of the Wild Horse”, she is our warrior and her own.
“Perfect on the Surface” starts with footsteps on gravel layered over a distant, mono piano that soon explodes into stereo. “Statuette” provides a brief, mid-album Godard-esque pause that leads into the marching “Siren”. “Minefield of Memory” provides the most accurate description for the album as a whole, and “Irish Exit” into “RIP” takes us back to the start, providing a cyclical approach to memory. And to life.
“The unfinished creation
of a changing soul
In a body changing
with the inhabitant.”
[CHOIR OF THE MIND]
For Haines, Choir of the Mind is not a record that aims to bring you down. While, in her own words, she describes the record’s production and choral harmonies as “like a panic attack with a lullaby on top”, it’s the light in the darkness that she wants to tap into setting free.
With Choir of the Mind, in her Soft Skeleton, Emily Haines succeeds.
STAND OUT TRACKS: “Legend of the Wild Horse”, “Wounded”, “Nihilist Abyss”, “Fatal Gift”
RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 15 on LAST GANG RECORDS
BUY EMILY HAINES & the SOFT SKELETON’S CHOIR OF THE MIND HERE