Song Premiere: Haley Bonar, “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair”

J. Edward Keyes

By J. Edward Keyes

on 10.03.14 in News

Haley Bonar’s Last War — released in May of this year — represented a striking about-face for the singer, moving away from the earthy folk that characterized her earliest releases into moody, gorgeous synth-driven numbers and nervy, wiry rock. She moves even further away from her past in this bracing, blown-speaker cover of Bessie Smith’s “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair.” The song is a blast of power and volume: the guitars are blunted by distortion, feedback wails and vanishes and Bonar’s voice is frantic and piercing. It’s the perfect setting for a song about homicide; when Bonar sings “I wanna take a journey to the devil down below/ I done killed my man, wanna reap just what I sow,” she’s almost swallowed by the great, greasy waves of guitar.

The song is taken from The Empress of the Blues: A Tribute To Bessie Smith, which also features performances by Jenny Owen Youngs, Dawn Lanes, Holly Golightly, Tift Merritt and many others.