Nashville-based duo Haunted Like Human may not have originally gotten their start in country music, but their do-it-yourself origins, complete with a chance meeting and a cross-country road trip, carry the classic markers of Americana legend.
Originally having gotten his start in heavy metal and punk before transitioning to classical guitar at the University of Idaho, multi-instrumentalist Cody Clark found himself driving to Nashville from Oregon in 2017 in search of more serious music collaborators. There, he happened upon vocalist Dale Chapman in a coffee shop.
Her background in creative writing led the two of them to try out a songwriting session that eventually gave way to Haunted Like Human’s harmony-driven, Southern Gothic sound. Their debut album Tall Tales & Fables, out October 15, grows from the seeds planted by both that first meeting and their recent EP Folklore, all while staying true to the band’s core.
“Whistling Tree,” the third single for Tall Tales & Fables, focuses on a distinctly queer story of forbidden love. “It’s one of the most personal songs I’ve ever written, and it took a year,” Chapman confesses.
The song draws from the story of a young woman who attempted suicide because of her parents’ efforts to keep her and her girlfriend apart. Anchored on the image of their secret meeting place in a nearby forest, the singer urges her lover to stay strong.
“As I really came into my own identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, this story felt more and more important to tell,” explains Chapman. “The image of the tree is a place of life and death, love and hate, all wrapped into one.”
“Whistling Tree” comes out on streaming services on September 17 — but until then, you can listen to an exclusive release here on Country Queer.
Annie Parnell is the Managing Editor of Country Queer and cohost of the radio show Cowboy Church. She also runs the newsletter Tugboat. Her writing has been featured in PopMatters, The Boot, Taste of Country, We Are The Mutants, and the Virginia Literary Review.