Photo: Evan Felts / Courtesy of Baby Robot Media

Phoebe Hunt & the Gatherers Tell the Story of “Baba Vanga” (premiere)

Phoebe Hunt & the Gatherers' beautiful folk song tells the story of the mystic Bulgarian prophet, Baba Vanga. It's the debut single from the upcoming album, Neither One of Us Is Wrong.

Phoebe Hunt’s mystical meditations lie at the core of the music that she makes with the Gatherers. Searching for a spiritual poignancy in the emotional sentiments of folk storytelling, Phoebe Hunt & the Gatherers are acutely aware of the human condition, its triumphs and setbacks, and the divides set between us. As Hunt herself testifies, “The thread that runs through our upcoming album, Neither One of Us Is Wrong, is the thread of reconciliation.”

Neither One of Us Is Wrong is presently one week from the end of its Indiegogo campaign. Ahead of the campaign’s end as well as its 10 April release, the indie-folk outlet is premiering the album’s debut single with PopMatters. Titled “Baba Vanga”, the song tells the story of its real-life titular focus, a Bulgarian clairvoyant and herbalist born in 1911. At its musical center is a sense of clarity, lent strength by pristine production that offers each instrument ample room to perform in warmth and light. As violins riff off of the song’s gentle melodies and soft-spoken percussion accentuates the lilt of finger-picking guitar, Hunt’s sweet voice stays afloat above a complex arrangement. She guides listeners towards the song’s story points with a heartfelt sense of ease.

Hunt tells PopMatters, “In this world of duality that we are living in, I feel more resonant than ever that it is time we find a middle ground. The space between black and white or red and blue. The space where we come together as human beings and recognize our similarities rather than lingering upon our differences. When I was writing these songs, I didn’t know that this would be the thread that connected the album. It wasn’t until long after the songs were recorded that I was listening back and realizing that this theme kept presenting itself. Organically, I began recognizing that these songs come from a subconscious calling inside of myself to unify with the resonance of interconnected oneness. While the songs are not overt in this theme, nor were they written with this intention, I am grateful to have taken the time to step back and see that this is what is alive within this album.

“We recorded the album in Brooklyn, NY at the Grand Street Studios and I was on a master cleanse. At that time, I felt like the recording session was an opportunity to free myself from all of the songs I had in my head that had not yet been formally recorded in a studio, and I knew that this band was the band to record them. We were in the middle of a heavy touring season, and I just had this “strike while the iron is hot” sensation, and wanted to have the band record on every song I had ever written so I could feel free to write again. I thought that if all the songs could just be recorded, then I would open the creative space within myself to write new music. The guys were all extremely supportive of this and helped to record 14 songs in four days. Later, after almost a year had passed and I still hadn’t had time to really sit with the recordings (due to continuous travel) I listened back. That was when I found the thread that connected the songs. The thread of reconciliation.

“My sister, Stephanie, our friend and bandmate Roy Williams and I were jamming all day and into the wee hours of the morning in a Brooklyn apartment when we came upon the topic of the state of the world. Stephanie brought up the mystic prophet, Baba Vanga, and so we had to dive deeper into who she was and what she was all about. We realized that she needed a song in her honor and spent the next few hours writing our version of her story from what we discovered. We sang it over and over and found a really sweet three-part harmony. I am really grateful that these harmonies made it onto the album now, almost two years later.”