There’s a fleeting shot, about three minutes into Her Silo’s “Lowleenest” video, of a woman sitting on a couch, her face illuminated by a lamp. She stares ahead, squints, swallows, and adjusts her posture. Her expression is one of loneliness, anxiety, and anguish, but there’s something mundane about her sullenness. If she resembles a quietly tormented 1950’s housewife waiting for her husband to return home from work, that’s because she is a quietly tormented 1950’s housewife waiting for her husband to return home from work.
Seattle artist Clyde Petersen made the video using found footage from a 1958 film that depicts a couple’s domestic life in dramatically-lit black and white scenes. Petersen landed on this approach after fellow Seattle singer-songwriter Jessica Lambert–AKA Her Silo–told him that she didn’t want to appear in the video herself.
“When we were brainstorming ideas for the video I mentioned that I didn’t really want to be in the video, and he suggested maybe doing something with found footage,” says Lambert. “The footage we decided to use is from 1958 and it follows a couple going throughout their day, at a time when technology was really beginning to alter people’s lives and interactions. This resonated with me. I’m old enough to remember a period of time before smartphones and social media were always at our fingertips. It’s definitely altered people’s lives in its own way, and I believe it also contributes to a lot of loneliness.”
The video–premiering today on American Songwriter–highlights the song’s themes of self-isolation and loneliness.
“I’ve always been a bit of an introvert and over time I’ve realized I have a habit of isolating myself,” explains Lambert. “I think I was exploring these thoughts and feelings as I was writing ‘Lowleenest’ and questioning how much of this self-imposed loneliness or introversion is based in fear, and also exploring how different changes in life have created distance from people or a life I used to know.”
In “Lowleenest,” Lambert delivers introspective verses with rich, haunting vocals: “Sometimes I feel so hollow / Making such somber sounds / But I find truth in the dark / Being someone else is too damn hard,” she sings. Her voice shimmers even when it’s suffused with sadness.
Lambert’s swaying chorus–”But I hate the loneliness / I hate the loneliness”–calls to mind some of the darker numbers on Cults’ 2011 self-titled debut album, such as “Rave On” or “Most Wanted,” in which vocalist Madeline Follin navigates similar terrain: “On a boat on my sailing ship on my own / Far away from it give me death, but don’t give me this,” she sings in the former.
Lyrically, “Lowleenest” also calls to mind another Cults track. Here’s Lambert: “Try not to make this harder / Don’t wanna drag you down / I can’t be what you want / If it’s all I’m not.” And here’s Follin, in “Never Saw the Point:” “I never saw the point in trying / Cause I would only let you down / And I just couldn’t take you down there with me / I just can’t stand to see you drown.” Both lyrics fixate on similar relationship fears, yet Lambert’s slow delivery on “Lowleenest” is especially aching.
“Lowleenest” is the second single off Her Silo’s debut album, Don’t Forget The Heart That’s Beating, following lead single “Bones”–an indie folk number that, like “Lowleenest,” has a moody, pop sensability (Lambert cites Bruce Springsteen, Damien Rice, and Isaac Brock as influences). Produced by singer-songwriter Joshua James, the album features contributions from guitarist Evan Coulombe, drummer Ronnie Strauss, bassist Stuart Maxfield, and cellist Aaron Child. James recorded and mixed the album at Willamette Mountain Studio in Utah.
Don’t Forget The Heart That’s Beating is out Feb. 21.