Hayley Mary Finds a Silver Lining in “The Chain”

Hayley Mary’s new single, “The Chain,” is her saddest—and most optimistic—song to date.

The Australian indie rocker—best known as the frontwoman of The Jezabels—wrote the track after realizing that the tour she’d planned in support of her debut solo EP, The Piss, The Perfume, out earlier this year, was likely doomed.

“I wrote ‘The Chain’ the evening I was meant to fly out to begin touring my first EP,” she recalls. “The pandemic was erupting and venues were closing and the flights and shows were cancelled. I sat in my apartment in Melbourne staring at my suitcase. Not quite ready to start unpacking and let go of the momentum of my little rock ‘n roll dream, I picked up the guitar and wrote what felt like, at the time, the saddest song I’d ever written.”

Mary ultimately found a silver lining in that state of despair: “It was a feeling I’d had before akin to depression that there is some kind of invisible magic chain holding me to the earth and keeping me from moving forward or climbing higher, which if I pull too hard on or try to escape from, seems to have devastating consequences behind or beneath me,” she explains. “But this time it was an odd sort of happy sad because for the first time I felt like the chain not only held me down, it connected me to everything and everyone else for a brief moment, everyone could see it and feel it at exactly the same time.”

The final product is driving and determined, centering Mary’s rich, husky vocals. It’s her first release since The Piss, The Perfume, and it’s exactly the type of soaring, keep-your-chin-up anthem we all need right now. 

Meanwhile, the Melbourne-based singer-songwriter is gearing up to release her yet-to-be-announced debut solo album. “I’m trying to make a record where I could be on stage with just tracks and a guitar,” she told NME back in May, “the opposite to the purist rock ’n’ roll thing – which I don’t think I would’ve ever thought about before coronavirus… How can I make a rock record with swagger and still be able to perform it on my own, and it’s still full and cool and can translate across a phone speaker? That’s my main predicament.”

So far, Mary’s solo work has straddled the line between alternative pop and rock. “When you want to do a solo thing that’s kind of pop without going actually mainstream pop, I think classic rock is one of the better genres that doesn’t get in the way of vocals,” she said in the same interview.

“I want to sound familiar,” Mary continued. “I don’t necessarily want to push boundaries, which some people do and there’s definitely a place for it, but I want to create feel-good music for me and what feels good to me is pretty classic, upbeat feel-good stuff.”

You can hear that upbeat, feel-good quality in “The Chain” — check out the song below.
“The Chain” is out November 4 via I OH YOU.

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