Single Girl, Married Girl – Three Generations of Leaving

Single Girl, Married Girl is a Los Angeles country band who have high ambitions by planting themselves in name at least at the Big Bang moment, when Americana came into creation.It was back in 1927 and Ralph Peer was recording original artists in Bristol, Tennessee and sees a family trio of deep mountain country hillbillies walk in. In the space of two days, they lay the foundations for Popular American music and create the industry. Single Girl, Married Girl was the first massive seller, and introduced the world to the captivating voice of Sara Carter. A song she apparently hated.

Three Generations of Leaving is the band’s sophomore album but has its origins from at least five years prior when these songs first appeared.

Chelsea Nicole Coy is the Voice and central songwriter and the core band is Charlie Ruah guitar, Oska Haggendahl drums and John Gray doghouse bass.  

Walking on Water opens the album and the sound is stark and minimal. A finger-picked acoustic guitar. There is an olde-tyme haunted Carter Family atmosphere. Daddy, you left all your children/ Walking on the line. Coy sings sweet and has a piercing high mezzo-soprano. Smooth as a glass stiletto. You are deep in the woods with the Blair Witch.

The singer is coming from the later period with the Carter daughters, Helen, June, Janette and Anita. On the Border Radio.

So She Runs. Immediately the music has jumped in time with drums, percussion, violins. Faster Pop tempos. Suzy is a wanderer/ She brings the things along with her/ She runs, so far away. The harmonies may be double-tracked vocals from the lead singer. Echoes the Everly Brothers and Little Suzy has woken up in the cinema and is racing down the highway.

Wreck Cut Loose slows that tempo and with the bigger sound it is familiar Country music. A dobro or pedal-steel is playing in the background. Sings about listening to Old Country records, or is that Alt-Country?

Looking adds more swing and rhythm. Full of melodic hooks and in the late Sixties it would be Country Rock…recognised these days as Pop.

By now I have shaken off the fact that she is not channeling Sara Carter, but Coy has a way of phrasing that lifts these songs outside boundaries of genre. There is a background in Jazz singing at university. In a similar manner that (mostly) Patsy Cline and (less) Willie Nelson are not strictly Country singers either.

A Widow highlights this. The voice goes high and spectral. A sad reverie to passing time and a lament to lost beauty. Has the atmosphere of the Old Antebellum South and the America of myth. The singing makes it fly.

Scared to Move casts another spell. That is a harp and it’s played by Mary Lattimore. Another ghost story and midway a slow twanging guitar. The Country girl has a new dress on for the new man.

Hurt Her So and Runaway are coming from those older sources. There is the ode to deep pain of a Tennessee Williams. Then the metaphorical Road to liberation of Kerouac and the Beats.

An American tradition. The Freedom Train of the slaves. Woody Guthrie’s ribbon of highway. The Carter’s Worried Man Blues to Junior Parker and Elvis singing Mystery Train. Sixteen coaches long.

They bring all this back with the closing song The Flood. Cowboy guitar, Western Swing, heartbreak pedal-steel. Looking out for a boy who can’t swim/ Leave the sinner to his sin.

Single Girl, Married Girl sound timeless and therefore ageless. It all comes around again. The album is not bound by this particular time but it certainly speaks, or sings to it.

Rev Orange Peel

Click here to watch the 13th Floor interview with Single Girl, Married Girl.