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A Giggle Past The Graveyard: Kelly Haigh’s Post Apocalyptic Valentines

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Nobody sings prettier songs about murder than Kelly Haigh.

A Goth dressed in Loretta Lynn’s clothes, Haigh has a Victorian sensibility, a dark sense of humor and a crooked little heart.

If her first album Country Western Star was a collection of moonglow murder ballads, her new effort Post Apocalyptic Valentines is a giggle past the graveyard—a wink and a nod that flies in the face of impending doom and somehow manages to break your heart in the process.

Haigh’s delivery is mellifluous and flirty, her romp through dark terrain a joyful ride that somehow takes the sting and the terror out of death and makes the ephemeral world nothing to fear at all.

Her unique blend of post-modern country and classic Americana is equally influenced by Patsy Cline as it is The Beach Boys and as a result Haigh’s compositions are textured affairs that feature layers of background vocals, walls of sweet harmonies and dreamy, hypnotic loops. A staggeringly good collection, there’s much to admire here: “You’re Not Here,” is a dizzying country dreamsong; embroidered with cheery sleigh-bells and handclaps “Post Apocalyptic Valentine Song” is the cheeriest way to toast to love while the world burns and “I’ll Bury You” sounds like Nick Cave and Dolly Parton gleefully plunging shovels into graves.



Elsewhere, “End It All Tomorrow” is a soul-offering love song (“Devil take me, take me, take me/Take me anywhere you want to go…”), the harmonies on the spritely “A Happening” are devastatingly lovely and “The Squid Song” is an oddly thrilling meditation on a mass squid suicide.

Instead of what we used to call jewel cases, kids, Post Apocalypitc Valentines is housed in a handsome hardback compendium that collects Haigh’s writing and her paintings. Both quicken the pulse in their own twisted and gorgeous ways, but let’s start with the writing: Haigh’s prose brings to mind everyone from Woody Allen to Edgar Allen Poe and she manages the tricky balance of absurdity and morbidity with the ease of a high-wire walker. With impeccable comic timing, she writes fables, myths and daily ruminations that suggest the work of The Brothers Grimm, Marie Claire Blais and Kurt Vonnegut. Haigh summons surreal worlds where girls turn into cats and truckers turn to dust and she writes with unreasonable ease and velocity. A segment of the book is devoted to her one-liners (“I like my eggs like I like relationships. Over easy.” Or: “A stranger emailed me saying he was in love with me from afar, which is cool, cuz that’s my favorite position…”) and the humor is both ribald and Borscht belt-bold, suggesting Phyllis Diller by way of Tammy Wynette.


Haigh’s paintings are haunting and evocative, featuring hounds with bloody mouths, twins holding a decapitated rabbit, a woman with a collection of the heads of her old boyfriends on the bed, and wide eyed girls with slit necks holding dogs. And I haven’t even mentioned the conjoined pigs, the dandy foxes, the crows, the carnivals and the recurring post-industrial backdrop. Haigh’s mesmerizing portraits of murder are astonishing in their own right, but the gentle massacres, the quiet killings in her work seem to be beside the point. The point is—now that that’s happened, what happens next?

And that kind of artistic skill makes each one of these paintings an elliptical exercise in wondering that if the thing has happened, then was it really the thing, or is there something else? Much like the surreal paintings of Robyn Hitchcock, there’s the ever present blue daze of the drowning world, the delicate disarray of the darkening world and the cosmic weirdness of all the worlds in between. Haigh’s subjects, macabre as they might seem at first, all seem to live in the aftermath; in the frozen terrain where our hearts should be tipping over and exploding with their losses, but they’re somehow holding steady.

And believe it or not, for all her mischievous, murderous glee, Haigh is a romantic who’s more enthralled by the holding steady than the things that break us apart.

This is a limited-edition thing and you should get one before they’re gone. Order here: