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Palehound just wants to know "How Long"

Palehound just wants to know "How Long"

Ellen Kempner and Palehound require no more than a minute and forty seconds to take the listener on a ride through languorous bliss and lingering despair on Palehound's new song out today called “How Long.” Opening with a salutary cough and a strummed guitar like a train rolling round the bend, the first stanza veers between reveries of a marble sky and “three months of cops and blacktops” and taking cover from a sudden hailstorm. Over its brief duration of plucky major-key banjo and toy keyboard stair-step melodies like “a watersnake slicing the skin of the lake” the song ends on an unsettled and unsettling note bent out of tune: “how long ‘til the sweetness melts / how long ‘til there rings a bell / how long ‘til there rings a bell / how long ‘til there rings a bell / that signals us returned from hell.” 

As guitarist and singer and bandleader of Palehound over the course of three albums and a clutch of singles--including the Elliott Smith cover above on last year's reissue of his 1995 eponymous album--Kempner has proved her mastery of fusing sweet and sour emotional hues to deeply-felt memorable effect--especially well suited to the current state of inertia for sure--whether addressing episodes of physical abuse, body image issues, buying dry pet food, lending support to a gender-transitioning friend, identifying with selfish girls named after drugs, or getting shitty tattoos. However serious or frivolous the subject Kempner infuses her words with a warmth-radiating humanity owing in no small part to the grain of her voice orbiting between near-collapse faltering and rock-steady empathy and resolve.

Plus she shreds on guitar. Witness the instructional lesson below for a song off Palehouse’s first album ably supported by feline companion. (Jason Lee)

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