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About

On Palehound's first album, singer and guitarist Ellen Kempner wrote about other people from a distance. Written while she was still "in a bubble" at college, the record's breakthrough single "Healthier Folk" saw her "watching cuties hit the half-pipe." On "Cinnamon," she was "peeking at the centerfolds." That record, Dry Food, was a product of spending a lot of time alone.

"I wrote it when I was really isolating myself," Kempner admits. "I was just very depressed and very socially anxious and in a weird social environment where I didn't feel particularly comfortable."

Kempner’s talking to me on the phone from a warehouse in Somerville, MA, where she works packing remainders for the nearby Harvard Book Store in Cambridge. Since writing Dry Food, she’s dropped out of Sarah Lawrence College, moved to Boston, and formed the kinds of friendships she found herself missing at school. Palehound’s second album, A Place I’ll Always Go, is correspondingly populated with new characters — not people Kempner sees from afar, but people she holds closely.

One of those characters haunts the new album as the subject of the tender eulogy “If You Met Her.” Lily, one of the first people Kempner befriended after moving to Boston, appears as a “friendly ghost,” both in the lyrics of the song and in the places around the city where she and Kempner used to spend time together. "That's just one of those things that when it happens to you, you feel like you're in someone else's life,” Kempner says of Lily's passing. Though she could feel the tragedy creeping up — two of her high school classmates died unexpectedly not long before her friend did, and she reads their deaths now as a kind of foreshadowing — it still devastated her in a way she’d never felt before.

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