My captivation with the Atlanta-based alternative rock group made up of sisters Kathryn, Annika, and Fiona von Grey, began over two years ago, with the release of their provocative single, “Forever Bound.”
Haunting in tone, the lyrics lay bare the darkness of devotion and paint a blurred portrait of heartbreak and surrender. I was initially struck by the delicate harmonies, winding together over an innovative, edgy blend of classical instrumentation and sharp-as-glass synthetic textures found throughout their third studio EP, Panophobia.
Their voices are supernaturally intoxicating, the work of enchantresses in the shifting light of a full moon, drawing listeners into a world that seems very far from our own.
Classically trained since childhood, Von Grey began as a folk quartet, with the youngest sister, Petra, completing the lineup. Driven by intricate harmonies, with violin, banjo, cello, and lap steel weaving flawlessly together over a hair-raising rhythm section, the sisters toured nationally with acts like The Indigo Girls and Parachute following the release of their debut eponymous EP in 2012, then landed a spot on The Late Show with David Letterman in February 2013.
It wasn’t until the release of Panophobia in 2015, however, that the sisters completed the evolution from folk quartet to moody, ethereal sonic sorceresses.
The critically acclaimed seven-track release was a step of faith into a darker, more introspective realm. Followed by their fourth studio EP, Trinity, in 2017, the sisters’ wise-beyond-their-years sensibilities were put on grand display as they address themes of death, vulnerability, corruption, and loss of innocence across a span of two years and thirteen songs.
But with 2018 and the announcement of their evocative, self-produced and self-engineered acoustic EP, In Bloom, comes a new facet of Von Grey. All the fog and mystery dissipates, and they’re left sorting through the remains of a life where the plans that once seemed so sure fell apart. Yet in this search for clarity, they are fearless in their confrontation of the often contradicting desires of the human soul, juxtaposing joy and anguish against a cinematic, multi-instrumental landscape.
The stories take on a life of their own, and their voices — poignant and complex — deliver an intimate invitation to delve deeper into the tension between the familiar and the unknown.
In the song’s exclusive premiere with Billboard, Annika explained, “This song is about the scary process of pulling apart all your safety nets.” Younger sister Fiona added, “Plans” is about transition and growth,” following the premiere of their music video on PopMatters. “We’ve changed a lot.”
And she’s not wrong. Von Grey have always had an uncanny ability to captivate and command listeners, casting an otherworldly aura. There’s some ineffable quality to “Plans” that will stop you in your tracks and make you catch your breath.
Maybe it’s the vulnerability, raw and heartrending, that’s exposed as the sisters plead,
Hold me, won’t you please hold me
Hold me through the worry.
Or maybe it’s the aching realization behind
I have moved no mountains
I have just stood still.
There’s something in the empty spaces of this song — between the lilting melodies and sparse, finely measured instrumentation — that captures the hollow throb of loneliness and indecision. Even so, there is serenity in these quiet places: in growth, in healing, in hope.
Now, with the release of their self-directed and produced “Plans” music video and two intimate performances scheduled at Atlanta’s venerated Eddie’s Attic, Von Grey make a long-awaited return to their roots and allow fans to come closer than ever before.
In Bloom is available for download on July 20, 2018. Until then, you can follow Von Grey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Spotify, download “Plans” here , and catch them live at Eddie’s Attic on June 21st and 22nd.