Saturday, May 07, 2022

Sister Ray Tackles Death and Generational Trauma on New Single ‘Good News’

Edmonton-born, Canadian singer-songwriter Ella Coyes cut her teeth busking as one half of the music duo, Ella Coyes + Jasper Smith in Alberta before deciding to branch out into solo work under the artist moniker, Sister Ray. With her debut solo LP 'Communion' set to be released 13th May 2022, Coyes has been releasing a single each month in anticipation.

On her most recent single, 'Good News', Coyes cribs the stylistic and genre trappings of folk, gospel and ambient; transforming them into a hauntingly effervescent treatise on the impact of death and generational trauma on her and the people in her life.  

The track kicks off with a sparse acoustic guitar, gently elucidated by Coyes’ soaring and palpable vocal delivery in the first line, "My brother calls me in distress looking for another breath / Say, "I've only got one left in the pack" / Says, "I'm calling from a bloody bed" / Don't worry, I think that's all of it, and death enters". Musically the track remains fairly consistent throughout, introducing a dry and steady drumbeat after the first verse, then a quiet piano part way through the second verse, and a shaker in the final section. 

Each line after the first brings more into focus a story of a family haunted by the spectre of death and disarray. At parts this is externalised as a looming figure moving through the various scenarios. Coyes recounts, "My cousins call out in the winter / What I wish I could give them / But there's no pedigree when we're half-breeds / Have you at least heard the good news?/ They said we will save you / Death meanders around the room." The brunt of this emotional turmoil reaches a head in the refrain as she addresses both the lister and herself- "But can you imagine a crowd? / Would you imagine a crowd around you now? / In front of all of the people"

For fans of acts like Lizzy McAlpine or Maggie Rogers the stripped-back, straightforward confessional atmosphere of 'Good News' should make for an incredibly emotionally engaging listen. 

Kenneth Butcher


Image: 'Good News' Official Single Cover

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