by Elisabeth Fuchsia
The Huntress and Holder of Hands is the relatively new musical outlet of multi-instrumentalist MorganEve Swain, which she began after the death of her husband and collaborator in the band Brown Bird, Dave Lamb, in 2014. She started out on her own - the only recording currently available attributed to this project is an intimate EP of solo home demos - but the lineup has since crystallized to include Emily Dix Thomas on cello, Emily Shaw on electric guitar and shaker, Liz Isenberg on double bass, James Maple on drums, and Swain's brother Spencer on electric bass and violin; Dix Thomas, Shaw, and Isenberg also provide vocal harmonies. The band is currently working on a studio album, which will include a full version of this song, "Creatures in Flight." We filmed this version backstage after the Saturday night concert at The Thing in the Spring, which The Huntress and Holder of Hands headlined.
The set Swain and her band played at that concert, bathed in soft pink light on the stage that had been installed for the festival in the Peterborough Unitarian Church, stood out in a weekend of stand-out sets. As someone who once went on a week-long tour that included only one show where I wasn't the only woman playing, it was refreshing and comforting to see a band this tight and fully realized built around a group of painfully talented women, with men in clear rhythm-section support roles. At one point, from the balcony next to the stage, I looked out at an entranced audience, completely silent with their eyes fixed on Swain, entranced by the amount of talent present onstage, and presumably as emotionally unprepared as I was for the fully fleshed out versions of these songs.
On a probably too personal note, Swain sharing the results of her creative process after devastating loss with this room full of strangers, at a festival at which she had performed with Brown Bird four years earlier, felt like being given permission to explore my own grief. At risk of typecasting this as "feelings music" (anything can be feelings music if you're brave enough), I'll admit that I've sent out unfinished drafts of this video to a number friends in need of catharsis in the months since we filmed it. My motive in disclosing this is not an attempt to ascribe intent to Swain's work, but an appreciation of the space I felt she carved out during this and presumably every show. Hopefully, some of that comes across in this recording, but, feelings aside, it's a great performance by a great band, and worth watching.