Death permeates the dust.
In “Alternate Ways to Pray”, the solemn second single of the year from Auckland-based singer-songwriter Violet Hirst, the inevitability of the end is everywhere.
“And darling, youth is on your side / Why would you worry what’s sat at the finish line?” she ponders, acknowledging that the inevitable is still likely very far away.
The distance from death isn’t enough for the cripplingly anxious. “She wants to be alone / To build a fort to keep her safe / But spooning with your friends at 40 doesn’t seem to be the thing,” Hirst coos later, envisaging a fearful future.
What’s the answer? It’s right there in the title: find alternative outlets, seek other forms of relief. It’s there in the accompanying music video, which finds two dancers attempting to remind their choreographer just how magical he is before a big performance at a retirement home.
Hirst has just the right vocals for the narrative, whispering defensively when the dread really sets in, finding resolve when it matters; “I know you don’t care too much… Why would you worry / Who could hold you through the night,” she cries near the end, her voice desperately clawing for comfort and certainty. Soon enough, it returns to a tired tremble.
Hirst’s gentle and thoughtful indie folk places her alongside Antipodean contemporaries like Maple Glider, Julia Jacklin, and Jazmine Mary, and her stark songwriting on “Alternate Ways to Pray” promises much from her upcoming debut album, Donegal.
Both her latest track and her previous 2023 single, the gorgeously rustic “Descending Song”, will feature on Donegal, which is set for release early next month.
The album was actually recorded a while ago, in Cromwell in 20221, and Hirst worked with producer De Stevens (the guitarist of Marlin’s Dreaming) and Reuben Scott to bring it to life.
Violet Hirst’s “Alternate Ways to Pray” is out now.