LATE in August 2019 – more innocent days, hey? – Lightning bug singer Audrey Kang could be found hiking along the windy coastline of Washington state. The trip marked a bit of an escape, a reset, following a cyclical conclusion: the end of an affair, and of a job. Time to get away and resdiscover.
“I get a lot of inspiration from nature,” she says. “If I look at the sky and do a lot of nothing in nature alone I don’t know. The songs just come.”
And while out there, roaming alone, exploring, quite by chance she happened upon a festival of kites. “I really didn’t know what my life was going to look like,” she recalls; “but at the kite festival, I knew that each day I’d see a lot of beautiful kites, and each evening I’d watch the sunset and sleep on the beach. I felt like nothing could hurt me.”
That reservoir of strength, stumbled upon as kites flew, went on to inform Lightning Bug’s new album, A Color Of The Sky, the follow-up to that year’s October Song and 2015’s Floaters. Things could and would change.
And change they did: Mississippi’s celebrated Fat Possum had taken rather a shine to October Song, and optioned the self-released album. Three also became five as Audrey and guitarist and vocalist Kevin Copeland and synths and texturesmeister Logan Miley were joined by drummer Dane Hagen and bassist Vincent Puleo, initially for live shows but later to lay down the new record in an old house in the Catskills.
The new album concerns both quietude and introspection and broader existential questions – and how Audrey transformed on the east coast.
“I trusted no one and was very unhappy with who I was,” she says. “The key shift in my psyche was the realization that I was the sole person responsible for my life and happiness. That life holds no more and no less than the very purpose you give it yourself.”
And en route to that album they’ve dropped the rather lush, sugar-in-the-veins six-string shoegaze drift of “Song Of The Bell”, the spacey, abstracted lyric video for which we have for you below. Do you what I’m getting? The Verve when they were great. When Mr Ashcroft had wild, long hair, he was regularly referred to in the music press as ‘Mad Richard’ and they released brilliance like “She’s A Superstar”. It’s both dreamy and stirs the blood; impressionistic, but with guitar steel.
“Song Of The Bell” reflects Audrey’s newfound clarity and confidence in her writing. “Songs in the past sometimes felt muddled, or I felt lost where to take them,” she says. “But for this one, each song felt like a whole entity from conception.
“‘Song of the Bell’ is a song about hope, but it’s also about understanding that uncertainty is an inextricable part of being alive. This was the last song to be written – we’d already recorded the bulk of the record.
“We were in the first leg of quarantine and I felt like our days had been abruptly hollowed out. I was thinking about emptiness and reading the Tao Te Ching, this very enlightened text, ‘to be empty is to be full, twist to be straight,’ etc. So I was thinking about that concept, how one can ‘empty’ oneself to be full, and where is that line, between emptying yourself and losing yourself?
“I thought about how when something is empty, you sort of have two choices: you can see it for what it used to hold and no longer does (i.e. a ‘shell’), or you can look for its potential to hold new things and possibilities (i.e. a ‘vessel’).
“I want listeners to explore their own interior worlds,” she concludes. “It’s about learning to trust yourself, about being deeply honest with yourself, and about how self-acceptance yields a selfless form of love.”
Lightning Bug’s A Color Of The Sky will be released by Fat Possum digitally and on CD, cassette, trad black and limited edition forest green vinyl on June 25th; you can order your copy right now, over at Bandcamp.