Chelsea Wolfe has shared the new song “Green Altar” and a cover of Joni Mitchell‘s “Woodstock.” Plus, she’s unveiled a new tour documentary, filmed during her 2019 trek supporting her Birth of Violence LP.
“Green Altar” was recorded during the Birth of Violence sessions and the cover of “Woodstock” was laid down as Wolfe prepped for the tour in support of that LP. Each song retains the alluring atmosphere of that album, built around subtle acoustic instrumentation and Wolfe’s enchanting voice.
As Wolfe explained in a press release, Joni Mitchell was a major influence on the striking acoustic performances on the Birth of Violence tour. Wolfe and her collaborator Ben Chisholm would watch old videos of Joni for inspiration, with one song in particular sinking in and becoming a recurring cover each night.
“While preparing for the Birth of Violence tour, I was watching a lot of Joni Mitchell videos,” Wolfe said. “A 1966 Canadian performance that I found of hers ended up inspiring the video for my song ‘Highway.’ One night after working on the live set, Ben and I were hanging out and I was just letting the Joni videos roll.. ‘Woodstock’ came on and I started singing along.”
She continued: “After that I simply asked Ben if he’d be into covering it with me for the tour, and we just went back into the studio and started working it out. The cover came together quite naturally and it was a treat to play on stage every night. Joni is obviously such a big inspiration to this side of my music, so it felt right to pay tribute to her.”
As for “Green Altar,” Wolfe called the song “cherished” even though it didn’t make the initial tracklist, elaborating on its personal origins.
“It’s a love song I wrote after finding out that my dear friends (artist) Bill Crisafi and (designer) Hogan McLaughlin were engaged,” Wolfe said. “I envisioned them getting married in a lush, green outdoor space outside of some majestic castle ruins.”
In a way, the new songs and tour documentary signal a ceremonious conclusion to the Birth of Violence album cycle, one of Wolfe’s most elaborate to date. Photographer Bobby Cochran directed the documentary, following the tail end of Wolfe’s North American leg.
“It’s not my natural inclination to want cameras around when I’m in my head or doing vocal warmups before a show, or when I’m with friends or family backstage, but Bobby asked, and in the spirit of pushing myself to document that era of my musical life, I welcomed him along,” Wolfe said. “Then, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit and I had to fly home from the European acoustic tour before I got to play a single show of it, I was so grateful that he had this footage and was putting it together.”
“I wanted to share this documentary for that reason as well,” she added, “for those who had tickets to cancelled shows (I love you!), and as a sort of wave goodbye to the time I spent focused on Birth of Violence, as I’m now making plans for and in the headspace of the next new album.”
You can stream “Green Altar” and the “Woodstock” cover and watch the tour documentary below. Pick up the songs digitally via Sargent House.