Chattanooga songwriter Emily Kate Boyd has a remarkable knack for understanding the ins and outs of the folk and country histories that play such a large part in her own singular musical ideology. Under her current moniker of Billie in the Woods, she creates pieces of folk antiquity that draw inspiration from the Appalachian traditions of the '20s and '30s.
But far from feeling dated or stuck in some cycle of endless imitation, her music uses these archetypal folk rhythms and cadences as merely the starting place for her to begin to develop her own unique sense of the bucolic country harmonies and rustic tonality that are inherent to this kind of music.
Recently, Boyd shared her first mastered track as Billie in the Woods, a beautifully realized slice of Americana titled "Dust and Delirium." Working wonders with just the simple things—her voice, an acoustic guitar, drums and bass (and some haunting string and clarinet work)—Boyd realizes her vision of traditional folk music attuned to more modern sensibilities. At a quick glance, this song, which was tracked live at Fudge Recording Studio in New Orleans, could indeed pass for anything produced in the first half of the last century, but there's just something to it that keeps it grounded and secure in the present.
The stomping Southern blues beat; Boyd's expressive voice; and that lonesome, drawn-out sigh from the strings keep the song sliding like mercury across your speakers—never staying still for very long and quickly moving off in some unexpected direction as suddenly as it arrived.
When asked about the background and inspiration for "Dust and Delirium," Boyd explained:
I wrote it while on tour in Utah during the Sundance Film Festival 2013. In the song, I'm reflecting on the fragility of love and relationships. At the time, I was mourning the loss of my previous band, JoyScout, and the friendships formed during that time in my life in Atlanta. I had recently reread "Siddhartha" by Herman Hesse as well, and there are loose references to that novel: "The stones you throw they hold your name/They've already been everything, even dust and delirium." I was also deeply inspired by Seth Godin's "Icarus Deception," hence the chorus "between the ocean and the sun." Also inspiring was Silvio Rodriguez's "Óleo de Mujer con Sombrero," where I got the idea for "Dust and Delirium."
She also has several live songs and demos uploaded to her Soundcloud page, which you can find here. And based on those tracks and "Dust and Delirium," we should be hearing more from Billie in the Woods very soon.
Stream the track below.
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