The Co-Conspirators chronicle The Lonesome Death Of Elijah McClain on their latest single and video — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
Like the best and most enduring folk music, the Canadian duo’s poignant and riveting new album The Unreliable Narrators implores us to take a closer look at history, society, and ourselves — beginning with its pull-no-punches first single. A retelling of the 2019 tragic death of a young black man at the hands of police and paramedics in Colorado, The Lonesome Death of Elijah McClain strikes at the heart of our most sharply drawn social and racial divides. McClain was walking home with an iced tea for his brother and had committed no crime. Spotted and tackled by police, he was put in a carotid hold that cut off his oxygen, and was later injected with ketamine. He suffered a heart attack and later died in hospital. An autopsy documented extensive bruising and revealed the excessive level of brutality he suffered during his arrest.
“The tragedy of it is unbearable,” Co-Conspirators multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and principal songwriter Will Richards notes. “It took over two years of relentless social pressure to bring charges against the officers — and his is just one of countless stories of police violence against visible minorities.”
Richards and his Co-Conspirators partner Katherine Simons’ commitment doesn’t end there. The Quebec duo’s sophomore album offers 12 compelling stories — whether fictional or real — that orbit around hardscrabble characters, troubled lives, social injustices, personal struggle, and more.
Originally from contrasting rock and classical backgrounds, the pair came together in 2014 over the common ground of folk, finding their diverse musical backgrounds combined to create something unique. In 2018, they quit their day jobs and hit the road, playing hundreds of shows across Canada, and releasing their debut album Shadowing the Organ Tuner in 2019.
To record their second album, they took a decidedly DIY and pandemic-necessitated approach, recording in “bits and pieces … here, there and wherever we could,” Richards shares. “The Unreliable Narrators was recorded over a period of 18 months in various apartments, motels, garages, and barns, with walls and windows covered with duvets, sheets, and foam. Time was spent waiting for buses to pass by, for neighbours to stop shouting; there was a ton of cursing when we realized the perfect take we had just done had picked up truck engine brakes, dogs barking, or children shrieking like dolphins. Sometimes you just have to leave things in (listen carefully).”