“A classically trained singer with a fondness for rock, country and German theater songs, Hayley Thompson-King certainly draws from a diverse palette on her second album, Sororicide. And she came up with a concept that allowed her to explore all of it — including the Country & Western weeper ‘Drink Her Away.'” — Billboard Magazine
Hayley Thompson-King is set to return on May 29 with her highly anticipated sophomore LP, Sororicide, produced by Sean Slade (Hole, Lou Reed, Radiohead). The forthcoming 11-song set follows her critically acclaimed solo debut, Psychotic Melancholia (2017), and explores an even broader range of sounds with threads of psychedelic alt-country, echoes of opera, and the reverberation of garage rock throughout. Leaning more into the former, the album’s first single, “Drink Her Away,” is out today. Billboard Magazine featured the track alongside an interview with Thompson-King, saying, “A classically trained singer with a fondness for rock, country and German theater songs, Hayley Thompson-King certainly draws from a diverse palette…And she came up with a concept that allowed her to explore all of it.”
Inspired by art song cycles like Robert Schumann’s Liederkreis, and concept albums like Brian Wilson’s Pet Sounds, Sororicide is a narrative that incorporates Thompson-King’s original songs with her own arrangements of arias she sang early in her operatic studies. She uses these contrasting styles as a vehicle to tell her own story of an artist whose inner voice is so deafening, she comes to believe it is that of a parasitic twin she absorbed while in utero. The “twins” are a genuflection to composer Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s ballet chanté Die Sieben Todsünden (1933), or The Seven Deadly Sins. This concept of duality is also undeniably part of her voice itself as she staggers from primitive rock shrieks to vibrato drenched operatic runs, sounding at times like two different people.
“Recording Hayley presented technical challenges,” says producer Sean Slade. “Very expensive German microphones proved no match for her powerful singing, and when mixing, her vocal tracks left Mad Oak’s vintage Geiger counter a smoking wreck!”
Thompson-King taught herself to play guitar at the young age of 14, with help from an instructional VHS tape, clinging to the ’60s folk era and singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Dar Williams. Drawn to classical vocal work, she moved to New York City at 18 to study opera at NYU and continued her training by completing a Master’s degree in Opera at the New England Conservatory of Music. Fully devoted to a life of music, but creatively unfulfilled with small roles and lack-luster directors, she eventually returned to New York and began writing for herself. She released Save The Rats with her band Banditas in 2012, followed by her first solo record, Psychotic Melancholia, in 2017, which released to widespread critical acclaim.
Vice‘s music site Noisey praised, “Equal parts Dolly Parton and Jefferson Airplane, Psychotic Melancholia is a poetic and measured critique of life as a woman in the 21st century;” while Paste Magazine added, “The intellectual contingent of her writing aside, Psychotic Melancholia is a positively jaw-dropping exposition that celebrates the entire canon of rock ‘n’ roll’s energy, and should be considered an upping of the ante on the gritty sonic real estate of garage, punk, country, and Americana, into some amalgam altogether more apt of Thompson-King’s wondrous artistic aptitudes. NPR Music‘s Heavy Rotation (via Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer) described the music as “juke-joint rhythm and blues bump up against heartsick country, tinges of psychedelia bleeding through the garage-rock performance.”
Thompson-King continues to balance this intriguing array of sounds on Sororicide, managing to weave the struggle with her inner artistic voice throughout the set.
“That loud inner voice is something I think all artists can relate to,” she says. “It tries to convince us we should be more focused on commercialism and is, at least in my experience, crippling. And at the same time, I recognize it as flesh and blood and I fear losing it.”
Sororicide Track Listing:
1) Little Less Lonesome
2) Mid-nite Convenient
3) All The Boys Love You
5) Must the Winter Come So Soon
7) Malcolm’s Moon
8) Drink Her Away
9) Whiskey Dick
10) Toi, le coeur de la rose…