Especially after the past 18 months that we’ve all been through with the pandemic and the wildfires, to name only a few of the catastrophes that show up in our news feeds, it is hard to avoid seeing or hearing about suffering and death. Although it is an inevitable part of life, accepting death is never easy. And the death of a loved one is hardest of all. Roots/pop singer and storyteller Kate Schutt wrote the song “Death Come Slow,” while caring for her mother who passed away after a five-year battle with cancer. The fourth single from her critically acclaimed Bright Nowhere album, “Death Come Slow” fits squarely in the American Roots sound. The song takes its place alongside the great roots songs of such artists and acts as Brandi Carlile, Alabama Shakes, Rosanne Cash and Mavis Staples, to name only a few. The “Death Come Slow” single is out now.
The song is a psychic tour de force, an emotional journey of how we process the reality of a life coming to an end. It starts as a small, almost whispered plea for death to “come slow,” to “come shy,” and “to not look her in the eye.” Kate could be praying here, the accompaniment is so spare, only a single acoustic guitar and her quivering voice. But as the verses accumulate, so does Kate’s courage and fury, the instruments following her feelings–piano, electric guitar, and percussion adding to the gravitas. Kate’s vocals turn desperate, rageful. “Death Come Slow” builds to a chilling, stirring chorus complete with a wall of background vocals and squealing guitars. It’s the sound of grief’s messy, chaotic howl, a keening. As the reality of death’s inevitability sinks in, the singer and her accompaniment give up, retreat. All the sound contracts to a single muffled drum, dirge-like, behind Kate’s forlorn, haunting vocal.