Review: Abuse and Romance in Little Coyote’s Aching “Witness”

Little Coyote © 2019
A haunting portrayal of abuse and romance, Little Coyote’s “Witness” resonates through darkly stirring music and an intimate outpouring of aching emotion.  
Stream: “Witness” – Little Coyote

Last year after experiencing abuse from a partner, I wrote this song ‘Witness.’

Little Coyote’s Teagan Johnston turns turmoil and pain into haunting music in her band’s newest single. A haunting portrayal of abuse and romance, Little Coyote’s “Witness” resonates through darkly stirring music and an intimate outpouring of aching emotion.

Witness - Little Coyote

Witness – Little Coyote

Wake up next to him with bruises
I know I wont win I’ll be the one who loses
Again, again
Shower in the dark
Doctor come around
with a suitcase and my heart
You cut, push, pull, burn I saw it happen
I lie tease, aim to please,
you saw it happen
I saw it happen, you saw it happen
I saw it happen, you saw it happen

Atwood Magazine is proud to be introducing “Witness,” Little Coyote’s first single of 2019. A Toronto-based band formed in 2015, Little Coyote is the solo project of consists of Teagan Johnston and released the moving debut album The Trouble with Teeth in 2017. “Witness” follows that album almost two years later, finding Little Coyote tighter, more focused and more in tune with itself than ever before.

It also finds the band delving into a sensitive and very important subject few artists ever talk about. “Witness” is a powerful, honest, and incredibly vulnerable expression of domestic abuse from a knowing perspective. Teagan Johnston opens herself up in a song that aches with real pain, and the scars from a not-so-distant past.

“Last year after experiencing abuse from a partner, I wrote this song ‘Witness,'” Johnston tells Atwood Magazine. “When standing up for myself and visits to the police became a part of my weekly routine, the concept of having a “witness” is one that became increasingly romantic. It is a sort of meditation on the ideal of having a “witness” in a world where two people can somehow experience the same situation so differently. The song also speaks to the pain of being in love with someone who is hurting you but just wanting them to be the one to fix it but as the song’s producer Erin Tonkon put it, they are the last person in the world who can help the situation.”

So can we get a witness?
Just wanted you to kiss it better
Can I get a witness?
If you never did this I’d be better
Lie lie lie, call the police
Die die die, die for me
Lie, lie, lie, call the police
Die, die, die, die for me
Little Coyote © 2019

Little Coyote © 2019

Listening to “Witness” without a care for the lyrics, the song sounds much like an ode or requiem to love of sorts. Johnston’s voice is melancholic, but utterly brimming with tender love and adoration. She is singing to someone she so very deeply cares about — yet it’s the same someone who is hurting her and putting her in danger. “Witness” finds the singer and songwriter reconciling these two juxtaposed identities of nurturer and perpetrator, struggling to run away rather than towards this person who is supposed to be the center of her life.

Did you think I wanted this?
How could anybody have wanted this
Poisonous kiss on my bones and my lips
Nicotine, Cocaine, Johnny Walker again
7 am, sunglasses after dark
If I were him babe I’d make you into art
You cut, push, pull, burn I saw it happen
I lie tease aim to please
you saw it happen

“Witness” is a difficult song to listen to. Its honesty is stirring, and Teagan Johnston’s raw performance is absolutely bone-chilling. She seems to hold nothing back as she lays out the dark reality of domestic abuse, and her mindset and emotions at the time. Stream Little Coyote’s “Witness” exclusively on Atwood Magazine.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1-800-799-7233

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:: stream/purchase “Witness” here ::
Stream: “Witness” – Little Coyote

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Witness - Little Coyote

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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