Great New Track: Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton – “Fatal Gift”

Emily Haines and Leslie Feist were both at one time members of the Broken Social Scene collective (or farm team), and while Feist has gone on to garner more headlines on the strength of her innovative organic folk-punk stylings, Emily Haines has been a little under-rated as she carves out some distinctive musical territory of her own.

For one thing, Haines fronts two distinct bands, which technically ought to double her brownie points. She’s a genuine Rock Chick – a Rock Chick with a brain – fronting the band Metric, itself an under-rated act that can deliver a variety of sounds from a groovy shuffle to pedal-to-the-metal Rawk.

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And when she’s not being the Rock Chick in Metric she’s the singer-songwriter behind the piano fronting Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton. A pretty skilled pianist in her own right, Haines is not content with simple ballads or other traditional treatments for singer and piano. Check out this fabulous new song and video “Fatal Gift”. There’s some real interesting stuff going on here.

A lovely lyric and melody on piano is suddenly joined by a serpentine bassline, haunting backing vocals and electronic percussion, it’s a great effect quite unlike anything else I can recall. A beautiful choral breakdown is followed by the percussive segments again, this time with real drums, giving the whole thing a vaguely gypsy feel, perfectly suiting the song’s anti-materialism message.

Emily Haines comes by her artistry in part through genetics. Her father Paul Haines was a renowned American-born beat poet and jazz lyricist, and in this case the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. “Fatal Gift” is a thoughtful and very timely meditation on a middle class struggling to make ends meet:

Haven’t we made
Enough for a living wage
We accept the fatal gift
A soup stone for our stove
And a blindfold for our tears
Paying for a living wage
Know it’s a deceptive deal
We accept the fatal gift
They hover over where we live
The things you own, they own you

Great lyric, great song, this is an artist deserving of more recognition. Who knows, maybe one day she’ll be even bigger than Feist.

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