Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Waxed - Record Review from Issue #47 Sept-Oct 2003

Trailer Bride

Hope Is A Thing With Feathers (Bloodshot)

Melissa Swingle’s best songs play out like Faulknerian tales of ruin set to music. Hope Is a Thing With Feathers finds the Trailer Bride singer at her finest on the sepia-toned leadoff track “Silk Hope Road”. In a world-weary voice that suggests too many nights alone in an unlit farmhouse, Swingle presents us with a war widow who wears a frayed gingham dress and her dead lover’s army boots. She isn’t quite right in the head, which is why she spends her days mumbling to herself while wandering back roads past chicken shacks, catfish ponds and weeping willows. If the beauty of a record is measured by such imagery, Hope Is a Thing With Feathers qualifies as a southern-gothic stunner.

Musically, Trailer Bride’s fourth full-length outing has moments of sublime surrealism. The title track proves you don’t need a theremin when you’ve mastered the saw, while “Mach 1″ is dance-hall honky-tonk so incandescent, you can practically see the Christmas lights duct-taped to the wood paneling.

Mostly though, Trailer Bride keeps its country low-key and potato-sack simple. So while guitarist Tim Barnes creates a White Stripes-strength blues explosion on “Skinny White Girl”, the disc will sound best in the chill-out room of a battered old Airstream.

The brilliance of Hope Is a Thing With Feathers is that bookworms will get just as much out of the album as those for whom Pabst Blue Ribbon is a premium beer. Swingle has such a way with words that you can’t help think she’ll make a pretty good writer once she’s done with music. Check out “Vagabond Motel”, a track so impossibly downtrodden it would make Carla Bozulich wince. A song devoted to a thrashed one-channel CB radio, Mount Rushmore, and a truck with worn-out windshield wipers could easily come off as a Hee Haw punch line. On Hope Is A Thing With Feathers, it’s practically poetry.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #47 Sept-Oct 2003

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

  • By the Time You Read This, It'll Be Over: A Pre-Newport Ramble
    Missing the first night -- likely the best of the three, given my taste and interest -- is sort of a bummer. But, on the other hand there's still two more days and nights to wander around the festival site, to hopefully discover a new act or the reinvention of something old. And, to be completely honest, the music and performances will run second to jus […]
  • Your Interview with the Jayhawks' Gary Louris
    A couple of weeks ago, we announced a contest to give away some copies of the Jayhawks' remastered and reissued editions of Sound of Lies, Smile, and Rainy Day Music. In the process, we asked you to pose questions you'd like to see Jayhawks founding member Gary Louris answer. Fifty folks entered and Jayhawk Gary Louris… […]
  • Lake Street Dive Motorboats into the Big Time
    The usual pleasantries open the interview with Lake Street Dive's singer extraordinaire, Rachael Price. There’s a mention of a shared acquaintance and a nod to the band's previous appearances in town, the first before a tiny crowd at Norfolk's Taphouse in 2011. "Oh, I recall," Price says. "That was a very memorable show." I […]
  • Chris Smither - Still on the Levee, A Fifty Year Retrospective (Album Review)
    I first heard Chris Smither in 1970. Not live, unfortunately, but on vinyl when picking up his first record I'm A Stranger Here Myself on the Poppy label, unheard, for the simple reason that it was Townes' label. I figured -- rightly so -- any label that knew what a talent he was could certainly be trusted. It did not disappoint. The album not only […]
  • No Depression Is Getting a Facelift: A Note About What's Around the Bend
    Ever since we announced that No Depression had been acquired by FreshGrass back in March, we’ve heard from many of you with questions, concerns, and ideas about the future of this website and the community that gathers here. We created a forum topic at that time so we could organize these comments and refer to them frequently, which we have done as we’ve dev […]
  • Vancouver International Folk Music Festival Day One (Jericho Beach, Vancouver BC - July 18th, 2014)
    A glorious run of unseasonably warm weather for a couple of weeks in Vancouver had me all but convinced that the 37th annual edition of the Vancouver International Folk Music Festival would see rain. We can rarely rely on the sun for that long in the Pacific Northwest, so it seemed like a sure thing. As it turns out I was wrong —… […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter