Begin a Spiritual Odyssey With Midnight Daughter’s Self-Titled Debut

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Midnight Daughter emerged from a transformative vision atop a mountain, marking the beginning of a captivating musical journey. Following a profound supernatural experience, songwriter Aurora Smedley relocated to Seattle and co-founded Midnight Daughter with violinist Bryan Djunaedi. Their talent quickly gained recognition, landing them as finalists in the Tiny Desk Contest, securing airplay on KISW, and earning an interview on KEXP. However, the project faced disruption due to COVID shutdowns, prompting Aurora to relocate to Sedona where she recorded the band’s self-titled debut album with bassist Michael Lynn and drummer Emilio Ferrara in 2022. As Aurora continued her journey, she made her way to Austin, TX, leading to a reformation of Midnight Daughter with bassist Jack Wilson Kelley. The band’s music delves into themes of depth, emotion, and cosmic connection, exploring Life, the mysteries, death/rebirth, and universal consciousness, as attested to by their self-titled debut album

“Much of this album was written dealing with depression, instability, and my recently awakened spiritual connection. It was intense, overwhelming, and extremely lonely. As I set out on my path with Midnight Daughter, my deep spirituality and commitment to my work created a disconnect with most of my peers. Many of the songs relate in some way to this feeling of isolation, separation, and aloneness, and therefore a yearning to connect with something —a lover, a friend, the Universe.”  Aurora Smedley


Though on the short end of the spectrum at just seven songs, “Midnight Daughter” is an incredibly solid outing which blends various influences and speaks volumes about the band’s prowess and ability to do quite a lot with relatively little – the album is not quite minimalistic, but it is fairly uncluttered in its instrumentation, opting for a very grounded and almost “MTV Unplugged” vibe that thrives on grungy influences. 

Let’s take a look at each track:

‘Sunsets of Red’ 


‘Sunsets of Red’ opens up cold on the strings of a lonesome guitar immediately followed by the overwhelming fullness and warmth of Aurora’s vocals, a one-shot stunner that will leave your ears transfixed for the remainder of the album. The track is a poetic and colorful wax depression of a romantic persuasion. The guitars feel raw and pulsating with intense emotions, particularly when electric distortion begins creeping in around the riffs.



By the second track, we begin to really savor the purposeful stripped-down hard rock vibes of Midnight Daughter. The band is really able to masterfully fill the song’s profile up with sparse elements weaved together with their impetus alone, and this is ontologically true in the contestatarian and open-cause rebellion that ‘Tolerate’ so vehemently wishes to instigate.


‘The Black Oak’

The title of this song aptly captures the somber and intense emotions evoked by the guitar/bass intro. As the sound takes unexpected turns, it remains haunting, especially when the vocals begin. The cryptic lyrics are infused with a touch of depressive horror imagery, eliciting feelings of isolation while exploring themes of rebirth and renewal.


‘Fissures’ comes right out the left field with a slightly more involved sound -such as, incorporating a piano into the mix- while also spotting a more ‘upbeat’ rhythm that takes on neo-prog and slightly more experimental elements. ‘Fissures’ sits nicely at the fourth place, bringing an added element of excitement and showcasing the band’s impressive range, including lead singer’s vocal range.


‘Kali Ma’

No doubt named after the famous Hindu Goddess of time-bound cycles of destruction and renewal, this track is a heavy indictment against personal and social stagnation, low consciousness and even escapism. This track is even wilder and more involved than ‘Fissures’ and plays fast and loose with our expectations, beginning as a calm and mild ballad, then exploding into a thousand different rhythms like a complex musical number.


‘The High’ 

This track takes advantage of the explicitly spiritual and esoteric connotations of ‘Kali Ma’ and plays comfortably to the thematic dichotomy between a higher power/consciousness and the idea of a psychedelic journey into the cosmos or the inner self. The ambiguity is there like a Rorschach test for the ears and just as that, the track balances itself between the two grungy-alternative moods of its sound palette.



Closes the Album for us in a neat little bow, a thematic and melodic “comedown” song that begins with a perplexingly sobering country-lounge aesthetic call, something very ‘goth Americana’, like spying a scene from Lynch’s Blue Velvet from the parking lot of a roadside motel window. The lyrics convey a sense of yearning and devotion and seeking not just a connection but a perfect unity between two souls.

Midnight Daughter‘s self-titled debut is undeniably a breath of fresh air. It exudes boldness and authenticity, with a distinct alternative edge and a carefully measured dose of aggression in each track, appealing to a wide range of rock enthusiasts. The album skillfully reignites the flame of 90s alternative rock moods and grunge tones, capturing the essence of an era that was both memorable and prophetic. However, it’s important to note that ‘Midnight Daughter‘ is not a mere nostalgic gimmick or a “what if the 90s Seattle scene hadn’t faded away” project. The band has carved out their own unique identity, ensuring that they receive the recognition and unwavering loyalty from their dedicated audience that they truly deserve.







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