She Returns From War debuts a fresh sound
Hunter Park’s freshman album, Oh, What A Love, was recorded in a mere five days back in 2015. But when she set out to create a follow-up under the band name She Returns From War, she slowed things down—way down. Psychic Voyage of the Mirrored Moon Dance Hall “took more than two years to make because I wanted other people’s creative input,” explains Park, who is aiming for a March release.
Christian Chidester from Brave Baby, Corey Campbell and Jenna Desmond of SUSTO, and Jordan Igoe are among the artists who contributed, with local Wolfgang Zimmerman serving as producer. The resulting collection is a success, deftly moving away from the folky love ballads on Oh, What A Love and experimenting wildly with synthesizers and multi-tracked guitars.
“The album is about a girl who goes to one of those big dance halls out West and realizes that all of the people there are ghosts from her past or her individual demons in human form,” notes Park, a transgender artist who acknowledges facing plenty of her own struggles.
The poignant “Swamp Witch” is among the album’s standout tracks, soothing listeners with its melody reminiscent of Gram Parsons and the chorus, “I’m not a cool kid, but I am a swamp witch.” Meanwhile, “Fingerprints” hearkens back to ’80s Southern rock albums like Drivin’ N Cryin’s Mystery Road. And you won’t soon forget “Snake Bites,” with its dreamlike synthesized guitar sound and the superb lyrical hook, “Where you gonna get your poison, baby, if the snake don’t bite?”
After a successful year playing Alabama’s SouthSounds festival and opening for Jump, Little Children, Park and a core band consisting of JP Chapa, Camille Rhoden, Caleb Bodtorf, and Kelly Morris are set to road-test the new releases this spring. On February 15, catch them playing with The Underhill Family Orchestra at The Royal American.
Photograph by (Hunter Park) Graham Morrison