Ethel faces the dichotomy between who she strives to be, and what she will ultimately become. Her lulling vocals beguile that which desires to consume her, desperate cooing entangles within a vicious and unflinching guitar that burns like red velvet. White Silas was the first musical project of Hayden Anhedönia, who seems to have dug deep in her history to articulate Ethel Cain’s work. This album is a bittersweet story, singles Strangers and American Teenager gave us a taste of what’s to find inside this Preacher’s Daugther. This is an album, but it’s also a movie, and it’s also literature.
Her relationship and experiences with romance, upbringing, religion, loss, and resilience are the main themes of this masterpiece with heartfelt moments in songs like Family Tree “These crosses all over my body remind me of who I used to be, let Christ forgive these sins I'm hiding and the bones I'm about to leave” or Sun Bleached Flies “What I wouldn’t give to be in church this Sunday listening to the choir so heartfelt all singing god loves you, but not enough to save you so baby girl, good luck taking care of yourself”.
Hayden describes Ethel Cain as “an amalgam” of her greatest wishes and her greatest fears. There’s room for what’s yet to come, but part of her identity is also what’s been lost along the way. It’s been a journey where she has developed a unique sound style lead by drums and rhythm beats, intertwined with the force of guitars and her voice. The album is atmospheric in its darkest places, virtuosic in its grand episodes some of them instrumentals (that piano on Televangelism, and that she-really-did-that tune called Ptolemanea.
Even if she doesn’t seem to think so, Ethel is a brilliant vocalist who displays all her singing skills, especially when they’re pushed through the story she tells; her own. Her husky and deep voice kicks in for the most decadent part of this record, yet an unexpected light vibrato comes in proving there’s hope and will to resist. When listening to Preacher’s Daughter you will feel like you’re travelling through Florida State Route 66 in the company of strong feelings on a very sunny day, which means dry weather but plenty of light on the horizon. From stunning riffs to bedroom pop to country to pure hardcore metal moments, we are in the presence of music that is unique. Through instinctual emotive songs and from the perspective of a working-class girl we receive a rare narration we hardly see amongst all the glitter and the bling in current pop culture.
We learn about her journey as a singer-producer, what influenced her debut album and her previous work, her favourite movie, her Britney cover, and why she is, also, a true artist; you can tell her most vulnerable work is her best. This is, definitely, her year.