Society of Broken Souls gives C&I a first look at their music video for “Wings on a Prayer,” off of the new album Midnight and the Pale, available now.
Songwriting duo Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter, of the folk-noir group Society of Broken Souls, move their listeners with vulnerable, compelling lyrics and soft, tranquilizing acoustic sounds. Their new album, Midnight and the Pale, explores the juxtaposition of light and dark, delving into broken pasts and unforeseen futures.
Their latest track, “Wings on a Prayer,” written by James, references “running out of time” and “misbegotten dreams” but finds beauty in being true to oneself. With slow strumming, bluesy pickings, and soft harmonizing, the track’s instrumentation provides an airy comfort to its soul-searching lyrics.
Society of Broken Souls recently released their music video for “Wings on a Prayer.” Filmed in the group’s attic recording studio and Spayde Theater in Fairfield, Iowa, the video breathes life into James’ lyrics. Directed by Gareth Bell, it has an authenticity that gives listeners an inside look at the effortless performance chemistry between James and Shapter.
We caught up with the two of them for a quick chat about “Wings on a Prayer.”
Cowboys & Indians: What’s the story behind the song? What prompted you to write it?
Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter: The song, written by Dennis, is about surrendering and acceptance. For us, it’s anthemic, as we return to music after unsuccessful attempts to leave it behind and pursue the straight life. Turns out the straight life is not a good fit for us. Songwriting is what we know we are called to do. And as we find our way in music as a profession, dealing with the struggles and insecurities that accompany that pursuit, “Wings on a Prayer” serves as a reminder to stay the course. It’s a mad world, but if we surrender to it, it flows steady and strong.
C&I: Whose idea was the video treatment?
James & Shapter: It was a collaborative effort between us and the director. We wanted to weave the creative process of how we record a song into the video and decided to invite the viewers into our studio. The stage scenes were the creation of our director, Gareth Bell. We think the combination of those two settings does a good job of demonstrating the “how” while highlighting the “why.”
C&I: The video is a really nice glimpse into the dynamic between you two. Was that something you consciously wanted to capture?
James & Shapter: We didn’t set out to demonstrate that so much as that’s just what happens between us when we play music. We certainly hoped to convey the collaborative element in the studio shots. With the way most people listen to music these days, they don’t necessarily see the creative process that goes into recording a song. When audiences see us live, they get a distilled version of our music — arrangements we create specifically for a live performance to get to the core of the song. When we go into the studio and layer in additional elements, we’re able to expand the songs considerably and create an album with a varied landscape for the listener.
C&I: What do you hope this video conveys to viewers?
James & Shapter: We hope the viewers feel a sense of hope and possibility. This endeavor of returning to music has opened our hearts in so many ways. There continues to be magic around every corner and the goodness of strangers never fails to show up. So while the song is about surrendering, we’ve learned that surrendering means letting go of that which no longer serves us. And in that letting go, magic comes along and fills the space.
C&I: Besides this video, what’s new with Society of Broken Souls?
James & Shapter: This song is from our latest album, Midnight and the Pale, which is our fifth collaborative recording. We set out to complete this album entirely on our own. We composed, performed, arranged, engineered, and mastered the entire project between just the two of us. It was important for us to approach this project with that goal, and we’re very happy with how it turned out. We have a video for another song on the album in the works that we’re excited about and invite folks to tune in. [There’s] lots to come!
Get a first look at the music video for “Wings on a Prayer” below.
For more information on Society of Broken Souls and their upcoming tour dates, visit their website. Photography: Liz Brown.