Origins is a recurring new music feature in which an artist charts the influence of their latest hit single.
Though her debut album is called Stranger in the Alps, Phoebe Bridgers sounds immediately familiar, an old friend sharing her most intimate feelings. And while there’s a bracing wind running through her tunes akin to a mountain breeze, Bridgers is just as handy with a warm smile or a welcoming turn of phrase. The Consequence of Sound Artist of the Month is unafraid of the darkness, and yet never leaves listeners out in the cold alone.
Bridgers’ intimate songwriting and bronzed vocals make for some remarkably resonant songs. Her ability to convey the impact of massive feelings in only a few words echoes back to singer-songwriters like Ryan Adams, Conor Oberst, and Julien Baker — all of whom she’s worked with personally. That all culminates in the sepia-tinged “Funeral”, a haunting track detailing Bridgers’ experience singing at a funeral for a “kid a year older” than she was. That simple word choice — above a loping acoustic guitar pattern and slightly twangy violin burn — is heartbreaking, but only the beginning. She then introduces the friend’s father, a turn of perspective that takes her breath away.
Bridgers herself has a fractured and new perspective, shaped by time and distance from the event. “It’s a different feeling going in and recording a song surrounded by all your friends,” she said in our recent interview. “You’ll figure out you had no idea that a certain thing can bother you so much. It can be therapeutic. Sometimes I’ll sing ‘Funeral’, and think, ‘Oh shit, a bunch of people are about to feel really bad for me.’ We’re just having a pity party right now.”
Later, she brings in another friend, the space between her and the funeral furthered and yet the impact lingering. “We talk until we think we might just kill ourselves/ But then we laugh until it disappears,” she sings. Bridgers is far more than gloom and doom, but is instead intimately aware of the hinges behind all of life’s big moments and the way that perspective can change them all.
Take a listen below.
While the real-life inspiration for “Funeral” is sadly apparent, there were other things Bridgers encountered that impacted both the sound and emotion of the track. Below, read what the singer-songwriter had to say in our latest edition of Origins. You can also pre-order Stranger in the Alps here.
Barr Brothers — “Beggar in the Morning”:
This song has stuck with me since I heard it in my best friend’s car years ago. From the intro, to the lyrics, to the instrumentation. It’s definitely a top pick for the soundtrack to my life.
Sun Kil Moon — “Glenn Tipton”:
One of my favorite examples of an extremely specific song, that is somehow universal in its specificity. Mark Kozelek is great at that. Also the band coming in at the end kills me for some reason. I tried some semblance of that when I recorded “Funeral”.
Vic Chesnutt — “Flirted With You All My Life”:
A heartbreaking take on death. This song destroys me. Can’t really listen to it unless I’m by myself honestly.