Land of Talk have shared a video for new single “Compelled,” the second track from the Montreal-based band’s new album Indistinct Conversations, now scheduled for release on July 31st, 2020, via Saddle Creek.
“‘Compelled’ is about being deeply attracted to someone who is in a (toxic) relationship, and wishing things were different,” says Elizabeth Powell of the tender, slow-burning song that swells to a shimmering finish. Watch the Joe X-directed video.
“Compelled” follows the soulful lead single “Weight of That Weekend,” which earned praise from outlets including Stereogum (“exemplifies the melancholy beauty that has always coursed through her songwriting”), Consequence of Sound, Paste, NPR Music (NMF playlist), and Brooklyn Vegan, among others. Indistinct Conversations is available for pre-order HERE.
All 11 songs on Indistinct Conversations were written by Powell (vocals/guitar/keys), and share the hallmarks of the Land of Talk sound: silvery vocals; masterful, at times cacophonous guitar playing; and a stream-of-conscious lyricism—here perhaps at their most emotionally vulnerable and honest. Powell produced and arranged the tracks together with bandmates Mark “Bucky” Wheaton (drums/keys) and Christopher McCarron (bass), and the trio recorded the album in a studio built by McCarron in Wheaton’s apartment basement.
Indistinct Conversations sounds like being set adrift. It’s the sound of an introvert at a party, withdrawing into the cocoon of their thoughts while the people around them chatter. Yet Indistinct Conversations is not an album of numbing out. By drawing back into their interior world, Powell was able to emerge with a stronger sense of self — and more willingness to confront the oppressive structures of the world. This process included embracing their identity as a non-binary femme, who uses the pronouns she/they, and engaging directly with the trauma inflicted on them as a “woman-presenting human.” Powell describes the album’s first single, “Weight of That Weekend,” as “a recognition of having been on the receiving end of a lifetime of sexual coercion, assault, boundary violations, and subsequent gaslighting.” The song begins with an invocation of abusers who “make me think I don’t understand how I’m feeling,” rising through dreamy summer-twilight balladry and unexpectedly symphonic horns to become “a prayer for love.”
On “Weight of That Weekend,” as on many other songs throughout Indistinct Conversations, Powell found themself literally using their voice in a new way — including the guitar, which they call their “first voice.” While writing the album, they switched to playing acoustic guitar; an effort, ironically, to take up less space (“I was subletting a place with paper thin walls,” she says), which radically shifted the way their songs were structured. Powell credits the album’s sonic adventurousness to Wheaton, who “pulled me out of premature retirement.”
As Powell stepped into a more authentic sense of self, they increasingly felt comfortable saying more with less, cutting whole swaths of lyrics down to oblique, minimal statements and dropping to a more low-key, almost speak-singing style inspired by Kurt Vile, Courtney Barnett, or Bill Callahan. “I used to think that as a ‘female vocalist,’ as a ‘female singer,’ like…‘gotta sing high! You’ve really got to blow your load in the chorus and show people how high you can go,’” Powell explains. “Now it’s like, What if I get to the chorus and I don’t feel like singing? What if I just kind of want to get something across in very few words? This record is me being a lot more true to what I want to say and how I would want to hear it, not really trying to cater to any preconceived notions of what a woman is ‘supposed’ to sound like.”
That radical self-acceptance, the ability to speak in one’s own voice, is the hallmark of Indistinct Conversations. By digging deep, Powell has found a certainty we all deserve: the realisation that their own voice is enough. Land of Talk’s 2020 tour dates have been postponed to 2021; more info will be announced soon .
Conversations tracklist:1. Diaphanous
2. Look To You (Intro)
3. Look To You
4. Weight of That Weekend
5. Love In 2 Stages
8. A/B Futures
10. Now You Want To Live In The Light
11. Indistinct Conversations