Purr Release New Album ‘Who Is Afraid Of Blue?’




Purr, the New York City duo comprised of Eliza Barry Callahan and Jack Staffen, are releasing their sophomore record ’Who Is Afraid Of Blue?’ tomorrow. In anticipation of tomorrow’s release day Under the Radar are sharing an early listen to the album’s title track – hear it and read more about the record via Under the Radar HERE.

“The title track, “Who Is Afraid of Blue” is a song about feeling homesick for your life, about losing luck, about feeling too much,” Callahan shares. “But it also plays upon the ‘the best way out is through,’ and in this case it’s through the blue.”

This is reflected in the track’s lyrics: I’m homesick for my life/ When it felt just like open skies/ So real and just mine/ But have I lost my luck/ Have felt it enough/ Have I felt it too much/ So truly / Am I really too far in the dark? 

Between 1966 and 1970, the American artist Barnett Newman painted a series of four large scale paintings titled Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue. That painting series’ title was a reference to Edward Albee’s 1960’s play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which was in itself a reference to “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”, the song from the 30s immortalized in Disney cartoons.

These Newman paintings are like a conceptual backdrop of ‘Blue’ as it is in many ways a record about these abstract registers of fear — saturated with emotion, introspection, and that very sense of overwhelm. A departure from the band’s previous releases which saw a light tether to 70s rock with the duo singing in harmony, ‘Blue’ is admirably placeless and timeless, often featuring Staffen and Callahan’s vocals individually. The record doesn’t sit still, spanning a gamut of sonic influence: from the cult songwriters of the 90s, to driving rock, a contemporary spin on ambient shoegaze, and downright country, the record manages to arrive at something so completely whole and so completely its own.

Just as Callahan and Staffen started to work on this record in late 2019, Callahan started to suddenly and rapidly lose her hearing. She was diagnosed with a rare condition and told she could be deaf in a year’s time. It did not seem like there was a cure. A few weeks later, the pandemic began. In the following months, it seemed improbable that they’d write music together again.

“Music became a live wire,” she said, “it wasn’t physically viable or bearable.” These events took their own toll on Staffen too and the duo had a reckoning with their art. They shelved the few things they had begun to write. Callahan focused on finding a way to get better. A year later she entered a medical trial and months later, against odds, entered remission. Then the pandemic started to lift. They got back to work. “We began working together again, intensely and quickly,” the pair says, “It was a life leveling moment, an opening moment. Time suddenly felt way more valuable.” They made what would become the record from start to finish in half a year.

‘Who is Afraid of Blue?’ is not a record about Callahan’s confrontation with a loss of a sense, but it is a record about fear, about trying to outrun loss and longing— it’s knotted up with love.  It’s also about the inverse — finding liberation in the blue, in the great wide open, in beginning again. Just as with the title, the lyrics across the record often ask questions of the listener. Callahan says, “This record ended up being more about writing a sensation than telling a story. Each song has its own specific entry point.”

6/1 – Washington DC @ Comet Ping Pong
6/2 – Philadelphia, PA @ Milkboy
6/3 – Brooklyn, NY @ Union Pool

Photo Credit: Jeton Bakalli

Pre-Order ‘Who Is Afraid Of Blue?’ 
1. Honey
2. Drift 
3. Cave
4. Hesper
5. Guessing 

6. To Be Better
7. The Natural 
8. Receiver
9. Who Is Afraid Of Blue?
10. Many Days 

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