Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
Soft Healer is that band whose tenderizing hands you feel working on your shoulder muscles. They're standing or sitting behind you, depending on what you're doing - standing or sitting - and they're working you out. The lights are turned down low and the shades are dropped, keeping any outside light from creeping in and ruining everything. There is a feeling of near-perfect intervention between the energy that's been ravaging our bodies and the energy that they're bringing into our bodies, with this rubbing, with this new mood. It's like being ripped from a scene that's producing nothing but a headache, a blockade of noise and fuzz - a stress storm - and posting our backs to the cozy fabric of a beach chair and a steam bath. We're shuttled, almost magically, to a destination, a getaway, but it's not all free drinks and carefree days outside our range of connectivity, a place where no one you know or who knows you can reach you. There seem to still be some bogeymen lurking around that they're trying to distract you from. They're there though. It's a paradise with a dark secret, or an obvious secret, if one's just in the right frame of mind to be looking for it.
The Austin band, which started off as the idea of Marie Butcher and Will Slack, is masterful at creating music that acts like the barbers in old movies, with the odd look about them, that makes you think that they may just slice a guy's throat when he gets him into his chair. Or they make you think of the pretty seductress in movies, who appears to be intent on slipping some poison into the drink of the man she's seducing. But the throat never gets slashed and the drink never gets tainted with a deadly toxin. It was all just something we dreamt up in our own heads, silly us. Soft Healer bring elements of things and insinuations and innuendos into the equation that we're not sure what to do with. There is always a feeling that something's a setup, even when we're being tended to so kindly, so lovingly. The songs are lined with creatures and unexplainable bedevilment, even when - like we said - we're feeling the tense troubles being worked out of our knotty muscles. "Movie Light" plays like an old R&B or Phil Spector song, and we hear Butcher singing, "Speedin' down the road/Fancy free/Speedin' down the road/You and me," as if we're just listening to a pretty love song, but we fear that the full moon up above is going to drop a bomb on it. There are creatures and there are other things lingering in "Soeur." It's as if there are a thousand eyes all right there, not blinking, just staring us down. The music lurches and we feel the goose bumps explode across our forearms, like a tidal wave, like the lights clicking off across a neighborhood during a power outage. We freeze for a second, or in this case, nearly four minutes, to see what's going to happen to us.