In her own words

Nikki Talley talks about the inspiration behind some of Out from the Harbor’s tracks:

The second song on the record is about leaving home and wondering [if] when you return, you will be welcomed back. Touring so much and traveling as far as we do these days, I struggle with having a “hometown.” Will people remember you when you return? My last address was Asheville, but I have honestly only spent more than a week or so back this past year, and that was mostly in the studio. I feel like a tourist when I return these days. One of the struggles of modern nomads.

The album continues with a song I wrote called “Let’s Go Out on the Water,” about fishing with our friends on one of our days off. It’s funny what I think I’ve written a song about and what it means to others — often something totally different. For example, a friend thought that trusting the Captain in the song was a metaphor about letting go, trust and going with the flow of a journey.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Gracie Blue.” It’s a tale about a maiden whose young husband-to-be has gone out to sea for work. She has dreams of bad fortune and hears whispers of a curse on the ship, Gracie Blue. While gone, he becomes mentally shaken and physically ill after surviving a bad storm at sea. He eventually dies, and the young woman decides that this ship, Gracie Blue, will never take another man out to sea. She climbs aboard the ship and sets it on fire. [In doing so, she] kills herself so she can be reunited in death with her love.

This story was one I had in my head for awhile but never thought it would come to life in song. It was my “selfish” track, and I’m glad it made it to the album. I’m curious what others will think about it, honestly.

While most of these songs were written very recently, “Willow’s Daughter” is a track that I wrote over 10 years ago, but it decided to present itself to the session. Once we started it, I knew it had a place on the record. A mountain murder narrated by the woman who was killed by her lover.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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