Daphne Parker Powell rises above personal devastation on the visceral “The Starter Wife”

Singer-songwriter Daphne Parker Powell faces the aftermath of a painful divorce through the songs of her forthcoming sixth album, The Starter Wife — a complicated collection that finds her tackling themes of grief, abandonment, and personal worth. There is a substantial darkness here, no easy answers and fewer silver linings. Powell crafts a world so detailed and intimate that it feels at times as though we’re intruding on private moments best left at a distance.

But she’s not wallowing in the shadows — The Starter Wife is a way for her to address and dismantle the terrible aches and devastations that she’s experienced over the years. It can be a slow process, filled with anger, doubt, and a desire to shy away from unpleasant truths, but Powell doesn’t allow her happiness to be destroyed without fighting like hell to preserve it. And throughout the album, no matter how bleak events turn, she holds on to a sliver of hope, a fragment of herself which sustains her as the echoes of lost years and emotional betrayal are examined. 

“This album is an exercise in ‘radical trust'”, she explains. “Younger me believed his vows to have and to hold, love and cherish, through good times and bad, in sickness and health, till death do us part. He proved himself fiercely unworthy of it, and despite the myriad flags, I charged forward — heart first. Instead of choosing to steel myself against future pain, I decided to let myself stay vulnerable, and even open my heart wider than I ever had. This album is my honest look at abandonment, codependency, and grief.”

Through lead single and title track, “The Starter Wife”, she rages against the thought of letting herself be defined by terrible relationships and the emotional detritus they often leave in their wake. Against shifting guitar lines and a viscous bassline, she wrestles with the consequences of love as a toxic companion. He sings: “There are things they never teach you/And there are gifts you cannot buy/There are no atheists in foxholes/And I was not meant to be a starter wife.” There is palpable anger as she tries to reconcile what did happen to opposed to what should have occurred. There’s a rootsy shuffle to the music, room to move and explore her surroundings. One thing is for sure — she’ll never let anyone take away her agency again.

Listen to the song below.

Daphne Parker Powell’s new album, The Starter Wife, is due out October 14 via her own imprint Pleasure Loves Company. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram