‘The Starter Wife’ review: Daphne Parker Powell bares her heart on latest album

Daphne Parker Powell

Folk-rock singer-songwriter Daphne Parker Powell, releases her sixth album, The Starter Wife, a collection of songs echoing the question of ‘what’s forever for?’

Powell shares, “This album is an exercise in ‘radical trust.’ Younger me believed his vows to have and to hold, love and cherish, through good times and bad, in sickness and health, till death do us part. He proved himself fiercely unworthy of it, and despite the myriad flags, I charged forward – heart first. Instead of choosing to steel myself against future pain, I decided to let myself stay vulnerable, and even open my heart wider than I ever had. This album is my honest look at abandonment, codependency, and grief.”

Produced by Duane Lundy, the album features a treasure trove of excellent musicians, including Powell’s longtime collaborator, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, and violinist Kieran Ledwidge, with whom Powell enjoys a magical, musical connection.

Speaking about the album, Ledwidge says, “I am always struck by how vulnerable Daphne is happy to make herself in her songs, and in front of an audience. ‘The Starter Wife’ is Daphne at her most raw to date. It is a record and reflection on her thoughts and experiences in pulling herself up and out of the emotional turmoil of her divorce. A uniquely traumatic experience for her. Musically, I feel that the songs are the least constrained of any she has previously written, not necessarily adhering to conventional structure if the idea being explored doesn’t call for it.”

Encompassing 11-tracks, The Starter Wife begins with “Little Prince,” opening on an elegant piano, followed by Powell’s evocative voice accompanied by a heavenly violin.

Entry points include the title track, which travels on low-slung guitars dripping with latent melancholy. Perhaps the best track on the album because of Powell’s haunting, passionate vocals, this song reveals intimate susceptibility.

“There are things they never teach you / And there are gifts you cannot buy / There are no atheists in foxholes / And I was not meant to, I was not meant to / I was not meant to, I was not meant to / I was not meant to be a starter wife.”

The subdued folk-pop flavors of “Enough To Kill” provide a slow, gliding progression, topped by Powell’s tormented voice. While the dual sonic layering of the intro to “Sentimental Pessimism (Part 2), at once dark and light, imbues the tune with an orchestral flow.


On The Starter Wife, Daphne Parker Powell bares her aching heart, her vulnerability, and her mesmerizing voice.

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