Daphne Parker Powell is out to make it abundantly clear, that she is no starter wife. Her 6th album is a relatively deep study into the pain and self-immersion in the wake of a divorce. The Starter Wife (Pleasure Loves Company) pulls from influences such as Sarah Mclachlan, Tori Amos, and Cowboy Junkies, but the story is all Daphne. Starkly honest and uncomfortably vulnerable, Powell straddles a hurricane of emotions in the sanctity of solitude. As a result, The Starter Wife is a musically experimental, and lyrically devastating work.
The album starts with a bit of a wheeple, as Powell recounts meeting her partner, and having her imagination captured. This is followed up by “The Starter Wife,” which is the title track and centerpiece of the record. A snappy, cool, and angsty piece, “The Starter Wife,” instantly earns its distinction on the record. The lyrically sprawling “Enough To Kill” is somehow both abstract and direct. There are certain bits of this piece that allude to the monotony of a relationship losing its spark. At other points, Daphne recalls the little tokens of affection that define true love.
“Murderer’s Row,” moves along at a gradual pace, but mostly connects. Violinist. Kieran Ledwidge does some of his most spectacular work on this piece. However, some may argue that his presence at this point becomes more of an expectation than an enhancement. He’s featured prominently on the record, and at times it feels as if it’s simply to done to give him a part in the song. Having said that, the musical arrangement on this one is serenely fluid.
On “Something Like Heartache,” Daphne breaks down the nasty details of a marriage disintegrating. She absolutely floors us when she recounts being told by her partner that they haven’t loved her in years. Brilliantly and tragically, she doesn’t follow this up with another lyric. Instead, she allows the music to allow us to fully digest what we just heard, much like she had to. This one is a slow burn, but may just be one of the emotionally impactful of the entire record.
“Worth The Weight,” closes The Starter Wife and essentially leaves us with a question. Was all of this worth the weight? The baggage, the pain, the scars, the loss that Daphne Parker Powell has endured, has weighed her down. It’s likely she will get the answer, but it will belong to her and her alone. On the surface, The Starter Wife would seem to be a work that is geared towards women. Powell would have been a Great addition to Lilith Fair for example. To her credit though, Daphne goes out of her way to see things as diplomatically as possible. A relationship between two people has ended, and both parties burden some of the responsibility for that. The Starter Wife (Pleasure Loves Company) is now available.
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