Behind the Scenes: Finishing the Hat

One year ago, I was playing at a winery in Virginia. All the tables had hand sanitizer on them, and the tables were spaced out. We had just decided to work with a PR team in New York. The album was about three-quarters of the way done. My daughter was four months old. We knew that COVID was about to disrupt the world, but I'm glad we didn't know how severely -- I might have cancelled the PR agreement and halted the album and deleted all my socials and taken up residence in a mystical old oak and learned the language of the trees. And for all the absolute bullshit of the past 12 months, I'm glad I pressed forward with blind confidence. 

Don't get me wrong -- 2020 can burn in hell forever and ever, amen, and (like all of you) I'm still in the early stages of processing everything and everyone we lost. I'm struggling with imposter syndrome as a mother, because I don't have a community of other moms reassuring me that every parent has to occasionally fish driveway gravel out of their toddler's mouth. I am not entirely sure that I remember how to hold my guitar and stand up at the same time. I own exactly zero pairs of pants that don't have an elastic waist band. I've learned that a lot of my friends and loved ones are vulnerable to harmful misinformation, and that makes me sad. 

 But the creek rose and we still finished this damn album and I am so proud of that. 

On the one year anniversary of the world closing down, I received my first Pfizer shot, in a bankrupt and empty department store at my local mall. The carpet needed to be cleaned and the folding chairs were chipped. The neon vests worn by the clinic volunteers had clearly seen many pop-up triage sites. In all, it was a highly imperfect scenario -- and I still felt like I was standing on the top of a waterslide, so eager to jump, so grateful for the shored-up and the good-enough. So thankful for the opportunity to keep going. Not in spite of the imperfections of the makeshift clinic, but because of them. Because look how hard we fucking tried. 

And that's how I feel now, less than four days away from releasing this album that we've been working on for over two years. I don't think any artist is immune from criticizing their own work, and I'm already compiling a mental list of things I'd like to improve upon. But I'm at peace with these flaws, because they bear witness to the fact that our creativity this year was shaped by our survival. And it would've been so easy for us to shelve our projects and our lives until a more perfect time came along, but you can waste your whole life trying to "finish the hat." My good-enough this year was the best I could possibly do. 

By the time an artist releases an album, they've already lived with their songs for a while. The fun part of sharing music (after the sheer terror of vulnerability) is getting to see these stories through fresh eyes. 

The chicken farm on route 81 that marks the halfway point between Here and There.

The smell of oil paints on warm summer nights. 

The aching, tantalizing mystery of a young woman who evaporated into the Massachusetts air. 

The revenge of a sisterhood. 

The heartbreak that you swear will be the very last one. 

The one that gets away, over and over again, perpetually asking to be reborn somewhere else.