Ethel Cain should be your new favorite Southern Gothic artist

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Ethel Cain is never going to be your favorite pop star. She has so much more to offer than that kind of silliness and lack of depth. In fact, I am pretty sure Ethel Cain wouldn't be Mariah Carey if given the choice.

There is something about Cain's music that will change your musical landscape. There is darkness in her songs, along with anger, and yet sometimes even if the bleaker places, the songs sometimes find peace. Ethel Cain's music isn't for the faint of heart, you see.

Cain has a rough upbringing. She always saw herself as different. Cain came out as gay at 12 years old and announced herself as a trans woman at age 20. She did all this while growing up in Florida. As a Southern myself, I can tell you being any kind of different doesn't go over too well in small Southern towns.

Ethel Cain should be someone you currently have on high rotation

But the emotional bullying that can come from the snide looks of locals can also allow one to find their own path. If one is brave enough, like Ethel Cain, that inner strength can turn into great art. This is what Cain does and forges her own style of Southern Gothic.

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Her debut full-length album, Preacher's Daughter, was released in 2022 to mostly excellent reviews. Paste Magazine, in a synopsis of the record, dared the reader to "imagine what would happen if singers as familiar as Bruce Springsteen or Nichole Nordeman were backed by Midwife or Sunn O)))."I might add to those ingredients a dollop of King Woman and you have a recipe for Cain's unique bit of greatness.

But don't just start with Preacher's Daughter, as fantastic as it is. There is a reason Lil Aaron found Ethel Cain to be so intriguing in 2020 and introduced her to Prescription Songs which Cain later signed with. Lil Aaron and Ethel Cain sound very little alike, but there is a common ground of mutual respect for the honesty of both artists who want to make their own paths.

2019's "Growing Pains" is a song that will haunt you the first time you hear hit, then wake you up at 4 am and force you to listen to it again. The lines "Staying up to see you when you get off of work/But you leave without touching me and you don't know just how bad it hurts/When i dreamed for weeks of you being my first" are bleak and funneled deeply through reverb. But the clarity of the meaning remains.

2021's "Unpunishable" lulls you into thinking all is right with the world - yours and Cain's - but the truth is far from it. There is a brutality to the lyrics and a slow heavy burn to the music. Still, you'll get goosebumps from the realization that you were lucky enough to hear it happen.

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The entirety of 2022's Preacher's Daughter is just phenomenal, though. Few debut LPs are as fully realized. The songs give you space to breathe while many times the narrator of the tune is suffocating. You'll want to help (knowing you can't), but you also know somewhere deep down inside yourself that the narrator is going to fight like hell to get out of their situation. And in the end, the narrator will win and then all will be OK for a short time.