And then the pandemic hit, and everything, including recording, was put on hold. A year rolled around, a year in which Atwood’s dystopian novel was uncannily close to real life, right down to the U.S. government almost being overthrown by a far-right radical mob. The collection of songs seemed more relevant than ever, and Haze was tired of waiting for the right conditions to record. She recruited a band, which would later come to be known as The Haze & Dacey Collective. The band members practiced individually to the scratch tracks Haze recorded in her living room.
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In February of 2021, the band masked up and headed into the warehouse that served as the temporary home of the Sound of Music Studio in Richmond, Virginia. In the capable hands of recording and mixing engineer John Morand, they brought Haze’s musical vision to life. The process took several months, with recording and mixing sessions interrupted by everyone’s day jobs and “other annoying adult obligations”.
On the album, Haze handles lead and some backing vocals, acoustic guitar, and piano, while Dacey holds down the low end with both upright and electric bass as well as backing vocals. The Collective fleshes out the sound with drums (Blee Child), electric guitar (Leslie Williams), mandolin (Doug Austin), saxophone (Allen Burris), and additional vocals (Jolie Harrison, Megan Rollins, and Doug Hewitt).
The album as a whole defies categorization into a single genre. Straightforward roots-rock, alt-country/indie-folk, speakeasy swing, a lullaby, and a piano ballad that shifts into something like gospel, all coexist on an album that concludes with a piece that would be right at home on a musical theater stage. The common thread is the stories of people hanging on to love, hope, courage, and humanity, while trying to survive the dystopian nightmare that is Gilead.