The next song selection for my 90’s Alternative posts is Haunted by Poe (sorry, there is no official video). The album, also called Haunted, was actually released in 2000 (I know, this post is a complete sham already), but her first album, Hello, was released back in 1995. Haunted features a dark and moody sound, which I thought made it an appropriate selection for this time of year. The album was supposedly well received by critics and her fans but was a commercial failure in the end due to low sales. Poe had signed with a record company that eventually became part of Time Warner, and Haunted was released around the same time that Time Warner was merging with AOL (we all know how THAT one worked out). As a result of the turmoil caused by that merger, Poe’s record company was dropped by Time Warner and promotion of the album was halted (that’s the short version at any rate). The song Hey Pretty from the album did reach #13 on Billboard’s US Modern Rock Chart, making Poe one of two female artists (the other was Gwen Stefani) featured at that time. To this day Poe has not released another album after Haunted.
Haunted opens with a slightly eerie set of vocals that sets the tone for the rest of the song. The drum and guitar parts then slowly build and help further establish and reinforce this spooky feeling. Poe’s vocal work is quite strong in this song, and her voice has a smooth yet powerful and emotional quality. In the beginning she feels lost and uncertain, and the words echo this sentiment as she asks the listener: “can you tell me where I am”. She seems unsure of where she is headed and trapped by figures from her past. As the song moves forward, her vocals gain more strength and emotion as her desire to be strong and move on with her life intensifies. Haunted feels like it takes the listener on a personal and emotional journey due to its shifts in dynamics and personality. It’s amazing in this song how such a unique and unsettling tone can be created largely by drums, guitar, and Poe’s voice (probably some synthesizers as well).
If anything, Haunted feels a bit too long, but in the end it more than compensates for this with its great emotional resonance and presence. Poe was inspired to write many of the album’s songs after discovering old audio recordings her Father had made, so certainly part of the song’s emotional appeal comes from this connection to her real life.
Other Songs to Check out by Poe: Angry Johny, Hey Pretty
Thanks for reading and please leave any comments you may have about my song choice below!