Photo: Maigh Houlihan / Courtesy of the artist

The Good Graces Keep Their Loved Ones Close on “Snow Angels” (premiere)

On "Snow Angels", indie folk outlet the Good Graces reflect on keeping close with the ones you love, even after they've passed on.

The story goes that the Good Graces started on an impulse, when Kim Ware bought her acoustic guitar, Buzzy, from Lakewood Antiques Market in 2006. The artist was well regarded as a drummer in the Atlanta scene, but she and Buzzy proved to be a perfect duo as songs began to flow out from them. Now, the Good Graces are a revered indie-folk collective known for delivering evocative songwriting, and in those regards, “Snow Angels” is no different. The song strikes a chord of spiritual beauty about keeping ties with your loved ones even after they’ve gone. It hits a poignant blend of emotions in the subtle buildup towards its crescendo, where Ware’s reflective vocals are met by a broad stroke of folk instrumentation that, together, evoke their full sentiment.

“Snow Angels” is from the Good Graces’ new album, Prose and Consciousness, releasing on 11 October. On the song, Ware recalls, “This is the only song on the new album that I didn’t write. I did take some artistic liberties (which the writer was open to, thankfully!), but it was originally written by my dear friend Wyatt Espalin. The first time I heard him play it, several years ago around a campfire at his old campground, I instantly loved it. I was first drawn to the chord progression in the chorus because it was similar to a song I was working on at the time. I remember thinking, ‘Hey, that sounds like something I might do.’ That might have been what initially got my attention, but I’m a big lyrics person, and once I paid attention, the lyrics just killed me. They were so sad and nostalgic.

“About a year or so later I was asked to pick a song of Wyatt’s to play at his annual birthday show at Crimson Moon. It didn’t take me long at all to choose that one. The problem was learning how to play it, and learning it in time. So I decided to make it easier on myself and just play it like I’d play it if I had written it. I stripped it back and slowed it down (the original was a bit more rockin’), and simplified the bridge a little. People at the show really responded to it, and it just felt so great to play. When it came time to choose the songs to record for the new album, I wanted songs that captured the past year or so for me. This song really does that — family has been a big thing for me lately, and this song has some of that; to me, it looks back at the past with a little bit of sadness and longing that I unfortunately think is pretty accurate. As we get older, relationships change and evolve, and sometimes you just miss when things were simpler. There’s some of that in “Snow Angels”, and also a good bit about identity, and coming to terms with who you are and what you really want, which is also a common theme of the album.

“I knew I wanted Wyatt involved in the recording and was fortunate to have him play fiddle on it. It’s rather funny, the first 3/4 of it is so stripped down, but a lot of folks played on this one! Tim Anderson added cello — and while he and Wyatt weren’t aware of each other’s parts at all (I don’t think either of them had the other’s part to track with), they magically worked together really well. There’s also a bit of banjo (Rick Taylor) and mandolin (Andrew Vickery). We had a lot of fun mixing it; it’s such a pretty song, and the vocals are really important, but I also was just loving how the band sounded near the end. So we ended up – quite last minute – bringing the vocals down to showcase the band a little more, and then back up at the very end. I’m happy we made that choice with it, it’s one of my favorite parts of the album.”