Like many musicians, Hayley Thompson-King is also a collector by nature. Not the grab-anything-not-nailed-down kind of collector, mind you, but the methodical, curatorial type, focused on gathering selectively, in one place, one day at a time, the things she truly loves.
A peek around the 35-year-old singer-songwriter’s Somerville apartment — where she lives as an artist-in-residence through a grant from the city’s arts council and teaches voice lessons in her spare time — reveals countless keepsakes. A horse saddle and belt buckles bring her back to a childhood in Sebastian, Fla., filled with county fairs, riding lessons, and rusted trucks. Dozens of records, strewn in stacks, expose the same obsession with opera that propelled Thompson-King through her undergraduate studies at NYU and a master’s program at the New England Conservatory of Music, both focused on the Romantic art form. At least one of the guitars within view is a relic from her old days in the garage-country group Banditas.
Along one wall, above time-worn tambourines and tape machines, hangs a row of paintings bookended by the Pink Panther (“Actually, that’s the first thing I ever bought when I moved to New York”) and a silhouetted musician lost amid the throes of a since-forgotten symphony (“That picture’s from my mom’s mother, and it looks exactly like my mother”). A clothes rack looms over a scruffy brown couch, crowded by more winter coats than any New Englander would ever need.
Thompson-King’s attraction to artifacts, of all shapes and sizes, may be rooted in her belief that appreciating the past can help you fathom the future. That’s borne out by her musical stylings, a cross between fuzzed-out rock ’n’ roll, classical opera, woozy psychedelia, and honky-tonk that feels at once appealingly old-school and downright experimental.
Across her debut solo LP “Psychotic Melancholia,” out Sept. 1, Thompson-King draws upon her raw yet theatrical voice, as well as influences ranging from Schumann to scripture, to translate uncommonly complex themes (dismantling false idols and revisiting the Old Testament’s treatment of women through a feminist lens are just two) into a soulful, sonic tempest that may well constitute its own genre. Ahead of that release and two Boston shows — a stripped-down set Wednesday at the MFA, and a free album release party at Loretta’s Last Call the next night — Thompson-King sat down to discuss her singular vision. READ MORE…