Ellen Kempner is the singer and guitar player of Palehound, a three piece band hailing from Boston, Massachusetts. 23 yo Kempner and her bandmates jesse Weiss and Larz Brogan have released their second album this summer.
Kempner is a highly talented storyteller and she is extremely good in describing feelings. If You Met Her seems to tell the story of a girl/woman who passed away young.
That one night we fought
About the little stuff
We went to Dunkin’ Donuts
And you got the blueberry glazed one
And I laughed ‘cause you knew it was the worst one of the dozen
Starting to count up from ten
Aging in “Remember when”
When the dust clears where’s my body
This is about sadness, loss and grief and Ellen Kempner finds gripping words.
Got remarried, to a teacher
He’s back on loving
I hear ’em laughing in the mornings
And my mother
Bought a truck, and sold it all
To live in Wyoming
The winter water’s a strange thingBut you will always be a week away
From turning 21Turning 21 is a song about growing up and accepting the reality that people move on with their lives and even your parents are divorced and remarried or they just moved to another state.
Kempner is now also openly queer.
“Everytime I write a song, I’m like, What if my mom hears this and is weirded out? I mean, she’s really accepting and great, but there’s still that fear. I think this album in general is just gay-er. And not on purpose… It wasn’t like I was like, I’m gonna do a complete 180 and be this gay “whatever” now. I just wanted to be honest with myself because it is better for me. It feels better and I want to represent something to people,” she told Stereogum in an interview.
The album finishes with At Night I’m Alright With you, a song about someone spending her day seemingly meaningless and looks forward to the night when she is with someone she loves:
All my mornings
I know I’m sulking away
All my afternoonsBut at night I’m alright with you
Oh at night I’m alright with you
Oh at night I’m alright with you“There is a lot of music about anxiety in the air these days, but Ellen Kempner’s voice is specific and visceral. It’s the work of someone who can’t hold it in, an emotion she captures quite well on “Flowing Over.” Lucky for us, her nervous, oversized heart knows not to tell, but instead show.” (Pitchfork)