Atlanta’s Nikki & the Phantom Callers’ single, “Blue Moonlight,” is available now on American Songwriter. Led by vocalist/guitarist Nikki Speake, the Atlanta-based band is preparing to release their debut LP, Everybody’s Going To Hell (But You and Me) on April 3rd.
Hailing from rural Alabama, Nikki Speake blends an angst-ridden songwriting style with a country-tinged, indie-rock band. There’s a morbid spirit in much of Speake’s writing, which she attributes to her Baptist roots.
“I am very Southern, I grew up in a traditional Southern Baptist family going to church three times a week,” says Speake. “Those older Southern generations have so much grief surrounding them—even the church services are morbid. I think my vocabulary was formed by that, so it’s just how I think.”
“Blue Moonlight” is reflective of Speake’s first real heartbreak. The feelings of agony and disillusionment play out in crunchy blues tones with soaring vocals. The lyrics explore a dark story that contrasts hauntingly with brighter instrumentation.
“There is a deep blow that comes from someone telling you beautiful things in tender moments, only to find yourself falling from finally feeling understood to feeling abandoned,” explained Speake. “It’s true that, “The first cut is the deepest,” and no one can ever prepare you for how much it’s going to hurt, or how betrayal really feels, or how you will worry and cry until morning comes. It’s not only about losing another person, but also about losing your former self; you will never be that sweet, trusting person again, but someone a little more cautious and hardened.”
This break-up anthem is one of only two songs of heartbreak on their upcoming debut album. The second song, “New Year’s Day,” is about a next-level break-up. This track has moved beyond the more innocent feeling of a first love, but like “Blue Moonlight,” it comes from a place of deep sadness and loss. Speake’s ability to pour raw emotion into her lyrics creates an authentic narrative woven into her music.
“As with most of my songs, I wrote them, or portions of them, while actively grieving the subject matter. In that way,” admits Speake. “Blue Moonlight’ ties into common themes throughout Everybody’s Going To Hell (But You and Me) – grief and mourning, but also self-discovery and growth.”
From the rest of the record, the listener can expect various nods to Southern Country roots. The eleven-track album expands with gospel-like choral structures, telling modern stories in the shape of a Southern Gothic novel. The band features eccentric spinoffs of traditional murder ballads and explores the unrevealed appeal of the afterlife while calling upon the underworld.
Listen to Nikki & The Phantom Callers’ mournful ballad, “Blue Moonlight” below. They will perform at the Blue Bird Cafe on March 4. Keep an eye out for their debut record, Everybody’s Going To Hell (But You and Me), on April 3rd.