Premiere: The Pain and Charm of Haint Blue’s “Bear the Burden”

Haint Blue © Rachel Verhaaren

Bursting with intense energy and folk harmony, Haint Blue’s “Bear the Burden” is a dramatic confessional reflection full of regret, uncertainty, and musical charm.

How to tell a story like this?
No it doesn’t have a hero, it’s only got two kids
Both of dark hair and pale skin
But she had a lightness that he never let in
Stream: “Bear the Burden” – Haint Blue

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Bear the Burden,” the lead single off Haint Blue’s upcoming album Overgrown (out February 15, 2018). Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Haint Blue is the Americana folk-pop seven piece of Mike Cohn/vocals + guitar, Dave Sheir/vocals + keyboard, Nellie Sorenson/vocals + mandolin, Aaron Mirenzi/vocals + banjo, Victoria Grier/violin, Mark Strother/bass, and Alex White/drums. The band’s 2015 debut EP Haint Blue established their rootsy style and flavor, but their new music finds them going above and beyond as they expand their influence and sound, striving for ever-greater heights.

Opening with the stirring line “How to tell a story like this?,” the dynamic “Bear the Burden” offers a glimpse into one piece of the turmoil, tumult, and subsequent introspection that inspired Overgrown. The full record itself is an attempt to capture and chronicle “ten harrowing years” of frontman Mike Cohn’s life, “in which he and his best friend fled the fundamentalist faith he was raised in and struggled with serious drug addiction.” Cohn made it out, but he lost his friendship along the way.

Overgrown by Haint Blue

Overgrown – Haint Blue

Without knowing the twists and turns yet to come, we hear “Bear the Burden” as a depiction of young love, inspiration, mistakes, regret, nostalgia, and so on: Few songs evoke quite as many feels as Haint Blue have managed to capture. It’s a bittersweet portrait of a past the narrator can’t take back:

Called him from the car to tell him, unexpectedly
While he was walking to the bar,
that the two of them might soon be three
“I’ll deal with it tomorrow”, she said after a pause
“Would you want I sent you money?”
“No, I wouldn’t want to impose”

“‘Bear the Burden is a difficult song to talk about; a pretty dark moment in time when I feel I let someone down who really needed me,” Cohn tells Atwood Magazine. “Lyrically, the song uncovers a lot of conflicting emotions: selfishness, guilt, shame, tenderness. One of the ideas we focused on with this album was not limiting the recording to what we could perform live, and this is one of the songs that we experimented with in the studio. There is a brief fiddle interlude where we overdubbed Audrey (the fiddle player on the record) and had her play these beautiful, grasping, almost prayerful melodies against each other. It’s a tiny part of the song but to me it encapsulated everything that the song represented.”

How to tell it when you’re only one, and not the one to bear the burden?

How to tell it when you’re only one, and not the one to bear the burden?
How to tell her it was not her fault, and make it so that she believed it?
How to tell her she was loved, while you were one bereft of feeling?
How to face an angry god, as he faced an unbeliever?

So much can be said of Cohn’s lyrics and his underlying struggle. Is this his story to tell? How can he share this past without taking away from hers? How can we do history justice? There’s no single right answer to these questions, thus so much of “Bear the Burden” is just a series of unaswerable questions, one after another. Cohn’s aching pain bleeds through vibrant harmonies and rich instrumental crescendos. Despite there being no fairy tale ending to this tale, the humanity shines through the haze as Haint Blue’s lead single concludes.

“Bear the Burden” is emphatic, emotional, and altogether exceptional. Stream Haint Blue’s new single exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

Stream: “Bear the Burden” – Haint Blue

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pre-order Overgrown here

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Overgrown by Haint Blue

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📸 © Rachel Verhaaren
art by Nellie Sorenson & Zack Vabolis

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:: Tour Dates ::

12/22 @ Purple Fiddle, Morgantown WV
1/19 @ Milkboy Arthouse, College Park MD
2/22 @ New Deal Cafe, Greenbelt MD
2/23 @ Frozen Harbor Festival Baltimore MD
3/4 @ 49 West Annapolis, MD
3/8 @ Dante’s Frostburg, MD
3/15 @ Metro Gallery Baltimore, MD (release show)
3/22 @ Villain & Saint Bethesda, MD
3/23 @ Front Royal Brewing, Front Royal VA

Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com