It was the last songs Caroline Kingsbury wrote for her upcoming album, Heaven’s Just a Flight (Fortune Tellers). Penned in the middle of the COVID-19 quarantine and BLM protests of 2020, all while dealing with the grief of losing her brother to cancer, “Hero” is one of Kingsbury’s most poignant songs, addressing social injustices, grief, and finding some way to stand up again.
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“I was already grieving the loss of my brother, who passed away October 2019, but now I was grieving the loss of normal life,” says Kingsbury of the track, Liv Slinderland. “I was also examining my own biases, trying to figure out a way to contribute to the BLM movement.”
Following up Kingsbury’s previous single “Massive Escape,” her tale of a drunk and broken heart, her isolationist themes oscillate around entrancing instrumentation and affecting lyrics. “Hero” is a translucent deliverance of being the champion for someone—and for one’s self. Cloaked in romantic synth and larger-than-life pop, Kingsbury somehow gets to the root of survival through her balladry.
Living just a street away from the protests, Kingsbury remembers her entire neighborhood surrounded by smoke and helicopters. “I realized for me it was all about personal responsibility,” she says. “Work on your own problems to be able to help contribute. It was the quiet voice inside of me that helped pick me up off the bathroom floor when it all felt too much. The voice helped me wipe away the mascara stains and try to look forward to the future.”
The first release from Fortune Tellers, a label founded by The Walkmen’s Peter Matthew, Heaven’s Just a Flight is Kingsbury’s narrative on being a queer artist and coming out to family, and the world, the deep loss of a sibling just as she was releasing her art, and finding her voice in all the madness.
“Hero” is Kingsbury’s perfect segue into the bigger piece of her music and that all-too-common trifecta of life, love, and loss.
“You are your own hero at the end of the day in order to be able to be a hero for someone else,” says Kingsbury. “My mom wouldn’t stop asking for a ballad, and it took a pandemic for me to give in.”