Zoe Muth is a rare and rustic musical goddess. A beautiful blonde woman with a guitar who writes cowboy ballads about broken dreams, stiff whiskey drinks and lonely hearts.
Muth twists those themes into a vintage, Nashville-drenched twang for a sound that feels like the smooth country folk of yesteryear.
If her songs tell her life’s story, it’s been a rough go for the Seattle native. Muth says her lyrics are a combination of personal experience and telling other people’s stories that make her music convincing.
“I’ve never been terribly down and out, but I’ve had a lot of pretty crappy jobs and a lot of heartbreak, stupid ex-boyfriends and stuff. Kind of the same as most people,” said Muth, “It’s something that’s easy for me to write about.”
Songs like “Harvest Moon Blues” off her sophomore album Starlight Hotel, capture the monotony of blue-collar life as she croons “I was born to lose.” Her silky alto settles listeners into a melancholy state.
Muth’s latest release, the aptly named Old Gold, is an album of covers, reviving classics from the likes of John Prine, Moran Lee “Dock” Boggs and Anna McGarrigle.
“I don’t set out saying I want to cover a song that’s about a certain thing,” said Muth, “It’s usually a song that I like and is stuck in my head.”
Whatever the reason for her song choices, the covers take on new life through Muth’s sultry voice and her masterful Americana backup band, The High Rollers. The most vibrant song on the EP—“Walking the Line”—is her own creation. It leaves you feeling like you’ve been trampled by years of failed attempts to crawl out of the bottom of the proverbial barrel.
Before you turn down the show because you don’t want to feel like shit about your life for two hours, know that Muth and the High Rollers aren’t completely downhearted—they can laugh at themselves, too.
The juke box standard “If I Can’t Trust you with a Quarter (How Can I Trust you with my Heart?)” is an ode to shitty men with poor musical taste. It is layered thick with hilarity as she boasts of her record collection and scolds her sweetheart for not knowing John Prine.
“In country music, so many writers seem to have a sense of humor about heartbreak,” said Muth, “It’s like, well this is just life, and you have to go along with it.”
Photo taken by Genevieve Pierson.
Zoe Muth with Widower
and Bill More (Hawkmeat)
Aug. 17, 8 p.m.
The Horned Hand
507 NW Colorado Ave.