A concept album with universally relatable emotions that takes a refreshingly female point of view.
When Chelsey Coy was making ‘Three Generations of Leaving’ with her band Single Girl, Married Girl, she had a clear vision in mind: to chronicle the lives and traumas of three generations of women from the same family, namedly the matriarch, one of her daughters and her estranged granddaughter. She set out to show each of those women struggling with issues very much of their time – the matriarch dealing with the oppressive life as a 1950s homemaker, her rebellious daughter coming of age in the 1960s, and finally her estranged granddaughter, struggling in the modern digital world.
Coy has said that she tried to match the musical tone of each song with the subject and time period, and that’s immediately evident with the nostalgic twang on banjo throughout the heartbreaking ‘Walking on Water’, a song about a woman in the past being abandoned by the husband she’s built her world around and then being left to carry the load of her daughters alone (“Daddy, you left all your children / Waiting on a lie / Daddy, you left all your children / All I do is cry”). ‘So She Runs’ conjures a Latin flare initially, melding into lush strings and harmonies that take us on the winding story of Susie escaping her past (“Comfort, oh, she doesn’t know / If, or when, its face will show / So, Susie makes her home among the stars / Following the path a moon takes / Always gone too soon and she awakes to find her scars”).
‘Wreck Cut Loose’ is a richly indulgent take on heartbreak, Coy’s voice hitting some wonderful falsetto notes among rich deeper tones. “I’ve been listening to old country songs / I’m drinking real good now / Everything’s soft and still / I’m a wreck cut loose,” she cries devastatingly on the chorus. ‘Looking’ is another strong vocal performance with a pop melody and a catchy chorus that could fit in comfortably on mainstream country radio, while ‘A Widow’ is a more sedate and takes on the difficult topic of grief and loneliness (“Picked up and thrown, I’m nobody’s catch anymore / Won’t dare to wear that velvet dress I adore / Love don’t leave me, please retrieve me, I’m on the floor / I can hear your shadow pacing by the door”).
A twinkling harp, played by classically trained harpist Mary Lattimore, glitters beautifully throughout ‘Scared to Move’, a song about providing comfort and light in the darkness: “In a strange new half-light / I will be your guide / I know you’re scared to move / We’ll find our way in time”. ‘Hurt Her So’ is a cautionary tale of how others words can affect deeply (“Unable to be able to / Brush off all her cares when she was alone / Brush off every little comment”) while the gentle ‘Runaway’ is about a girl trying to find somewhere new to belong (“Don’t know how far I’m going, our road has no end / I’m alright with not knowing, but free to pretend”).
‘Control’ takes a look at the sparkling, dreamy side of young love that’s ultimately destined to fail (“I search the stars / That fill the sky / Underneath the hourglass / In constant fear that we won’t last”). The final track is ‘The Flood’ and it conjures a distinctly old school country vibe, Coy conveying a real longing with her vocals as she sings of a lost love against the gentle twang of a guitar.
“When writing this album, we didn’t know how much it resembled our own life, and what it would portend – loss, moving on, change, self-doubt, making art, hopefulness, love,” Coy has said of the album, and that feeling of reliability is true for anyone listening too. Lyrics like, “When you’re down / When you’re out / Every moment turns to an introspective investigation into yourself” on ‘Wreck Cut Loose’ feel utterly universal, no matter if they were written about a specific person or time period – proof we can all find parts of ourselves even through the lens of others.