One of the major takeaways from the collective experience of the past year is that change is hard. Evolution itself takes millions of years to present. Luckily for Houston duo Say Girl Say and their fans, the development of their second album took significantly less time.
Let My Hair Down is due out May 29 and Say Girl Say will be celebrating with a live streamed performance from the Heights Theater on that same evening. They will also be performing at Discovery Green on Friday, June 25.
“We’ve been wanting to share this album and these songs with our listeners and our fans for over a year now,” says Suad Ihsan who with her band mate Brigette Yawn worked for over six years to finalize the album.
The band's self-titled 2015 release received national praise and made them staples in the Houston music scene and beyond. When they were finally set to release Let My Hair Down, the pandemic shut everything down and they decided to hold off just a little longer.
For Let My Hair Down, Say Girl Say stepped outside from their previous album’s sound, which was mostly acoustic instrumentation with raw, flowy harmonizing vocals into a sharper and more electronic pop sound without losing their primitive qualities.
The duo took their time mastering the songs and getting the album just right to release digitally and on vinyl with the financial help of fans who pre-ordered the vinyl album, without whom both band members agree they could never have gotten it done. For the album artwork the duo teamed up with local artists Stephanie Gonzalez to give the cover art an extra pop.
“It’s not something we did overnight,” says Yawn. “It's taken us a lot of time to get here but it's totally worth all of the work and time we put into it.”
“We went through a lot of growth and changes,” she adds. “It’s hard for me to talk about the second process without talking about the first process. From the start we just started playing together for fun and it was just a totally organic and natural thing.”
Say Girl Say is a perfect representation of Houston’s diversity and DIY hustling spirit that runs rampant in our arts community.
“Once we went through that first album, we realized we need to maximize and step up our game in terms of performing and instrumentation without hiring band members or really adding additional people in the mix. We really wanted to stay independent because we work so well together so we just started picking up other instruments,” says Yawn.
The band mates, who met over ten years ago working together at jobs they still hold, took on the challenge of learning how to make the sounds they wanted for their new album by expanding from ukulele and acoustic guitar to including synthesizers, keyboard and bass. They also teamed up with producer Birdmagic to add that extra touch and depth of electronic sounds.
“Us being mostly singer songwriter musicians, working with production like electronic music is a whole totally different thing so we needed to contact somebody that is really fluid in this topic and that's going to make our album really hit hard. It was the best decision that we made and we’re super happy with how everything turned out,” says Yawn of the decision to work with Birdmagic.
“We don't put ourselves in a box,” says Ihsan. “Let’s write, be inspired and stay true to who we are even though it might look or sound different than before."
Let My Hair Down tells a complete story of the growth a person can experience through heartbreak and self reflection. “It’s all about loving yourself and realizing that you're worth it and all of these lessons were there for you to grow and evolve and be a better person,” describes Ihsan adding “From beginning to end, it’s like a rainbow of emotions that we can all go through together.”
“We wanted to create a concept that would be relatable,” says Yawn. “Life is messy and we all learn lessons and grow from those lessons. A lot of bad days are just opportunities to learn. Going deeper inside, accepting yourself, loving and forgiving yourself and even others.”
Let My Hair Down is a cathartic listening experience with a groovy dance vibe with beats, message and harmonizing that are highly contagious.
“There's a lot of meditation and healing that goes into the music that we make and sometimes you have to sit with it for a while, even if it's longer than six years,” says Yawn. “For me, it's not like we are writing the song, I feel like the song is writing itself and we just have to learn what it's saying and what it’s telling us.”
Let My Hair Down will be released digitally and on vinyl available on their website and at local records stores. Say Girl Say will perform for a live-streamed album release on Saturday, May 29 at 8 p.m., $10 and they will perform live on Friday, June 25 at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney at 6:30 p.m. Free.
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