Nichole Perkins knows a lot about Southern gothic glamour. Born and raised in Nashville, she knows what it means to live in a place where people put glass bottles in the trees and bushes outside of their homes to keep away ghosts and evil spirits. She grew up hearing stories about the women who cast spells—and she remains fascinated by the supernatural.
Perkins, who now lives in Brooklyn, is the author of Lilith, but Dark, a 2018 poetry collection about her “search for power and peace in the eye of a Southern storm.” This Thirst Aid Kit cohost may enjoy Americana, but she always wants it a little bluesier or sounding a little more like a haunting. So throw a pinch of salt over your shoulder, turn your face to the moon, and check out Perkins’s playlist—the perfect Southern gothic soundtrack.
Adia Victoria, “Stuck in the South”
“Stuck in the South” appears on Adia Victoria’s 2016 debut album Beyond the Bloodhounds. Lyrics like “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout Southern belles/ but I can tell you somethin’ ’bout Southern hell” made me dive in immediately.
Valerie June, “Workin’ Woman Blues”
If you’re tired of working and need a little relief in the form of a sugar daddy, then this bluesy jam is right up your alley. Even if that description doesn’t fit you, you still need Valerie June in your life.
Julie Mintz, “Til She Disappears”
Julie Mintz’s voice has the gossamer strength of a spiderweb and clings to you just as well. This song, based on a woman’s habit of chipping away pieces of herself to stay in a relationship, will follow you for a while.
Adia Victoria, “Devil Is a Lie”
Adia Victoria deserves two spots on this playlist because her second album, Silences, is too good to ignore. The album is the perfect soundtrack for self-reflection, and this song in particular makes you think about all the ways we self-sabotage.
Our Native Daughters, “Barbados”
“Barbados” is a little different from the rest of this playlist because it opens and closes with spoken word, but it’s hard to resist its haunting rhythm and lyrics. The song focuses on the Caribbean leg of the triangular slave trade, which connects it to the South in unforgettable ways.
Rhiannon Giddens, “Come Love Come”
“Come Love Come” is a disquieting but beautiful tune about an enslaved American woman who’s searching for freedom while waiting for her love.
Monica Heldal, “Conman Coming”
This may be cheating a bit, but sometimes dark indie folk blues comes from a Norwegian woman.
Honeyhoney, “Thin Line”
“’Cause I want whiskey when I’m sick/ and a man when I’m well/ But it’s nice to have them both sometimes/ when I feel like raising hell…”
Mirel Wagner, “No Death”
This ode to loving a woman, even when she’s dead and gone, might seep into your dreams tonight.
Eilen Jewell, “I’m Gonna Dress in Black”
Van Morrison sang this eerie song with Them in 1965, but Eilen Jewell’s 2009 cover brings an otherworldly element to it.