In 2015, MorganEve Swain was telling a reporter about her new identity she had recently accepted as her own: a widow. Two years later, she has channeled her lingering disbelief and recurring bouts of grief and redemption into The Huntress And Holder Of Hands, a potent reminder that even when life turns out differently than we expect, the human spirit is indomitable, our capacity to love and persevere immeasurable.
For the past decade, Swain has been known for her work with Brown Bird, a chameleonic duo she fronted with her late husband, Dave Lamb. They charged out of Providence in the early 2000s, a heady hybrid of dark Americana, blues, Eastern-European folk, and the far-flung influences of their upbringings. Just as the band was taking flight, with a handful of acclaimed albums, nonstop touring, and a star-making performance at the Newport Folk Festival, Lamb was diagnosed with leukemia. Though the year-long ordeal that followed was full of incredible support and unwavering hope, he succumbed in April 2014, gone far too soon at 36, leaving Swain to carry a torch for the duo's brief but enduring legacy.
This band took its name and the title Avalon from the last words that haunted the end of Brown Bird's final album, 2015's devastating Axis Mundi. In an intimate home recording he'd given her as a Christmas present, Lamb inadvertently laid out Swain's artistic arc: "You're a huntress and a healer and a holder of hands/ And your heart is the Avalon that I seek for my end." It's fitting, then, that this album is a powerful bookend to that farewell statement. It is a tough but important listen, a harrowing account of not just Swain's anguish but also her resolve and profound love for Lamb and the community that formed around them and lifted her when she needed it the most.