Romantic jealousy is one of those feelings almost anyone can relate to. Either we’ve felt like everyone but us had a special someone, we’ve worried our partners would stray, we’ve wanted to be with someone who was taken, or we’ve been non-monogamous and had to face our jealousy head-on. In her latest single “Gold Woman,” folk-rock singer-songwriter Evelyn Cools looks at jealousy from all angles, exploring where it comes from and where it leads.
The sassy, country-inspired song is sung from the perspective of a woman who’s in a bar with her partner when another woman walks in and catches his eye. When Cools performs this song live, she usually prefaces it with “this one’s about cheating” to get a laugh out of the audience. Indeed, with its powerful vocals, electric guitars, and vivid scene-setting, it bears some resemblance to Carrie Underwood’s infidelity anthem “Before He Cheats.” But Cools says the song is more about wanting what we can’t have; the “gold woman” can be an object of desire or an object of envy. At the end, Cools asks, “But was she worth it?”
“I was feeling very analytical about the modern dating world and how easy it is to have this ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ mentality with relationships,” she explains. “Especially with social media now, it’s just so easy to see what you don’t have, but only the superficial parts of that.”
The song will appear on Cools’ upcoming EP, Misfit Paradise, out August 14, which explores our relationships with ourselves, with others, and with Planet Earth. In the slow-paced, minimalist title track, Cools sings about that feeling of belonging that tends to elude those of us who identify as misfits. She wrote it based on her experience studying at NYC’s Institute of Audio Research, reflecting on what happens when people from all over the world gather together around a common interest.
“It’s about finding the people that fit with you and make you a better person and make you be the best you can be,” she explains. “So many people — maybe all of us at some point in our lives — feel like misfits. Maybe we grow up in a society that doesn’t value our particular goals, or our family or our own thoughts make us feel like we don’t belong, and even though we think that way, there are other people who lift you up and you realize you’re really similar. Finding your group of people is a form of paradise.”
“Soaring” and “Another Night” showcase Cools’ traditional singer-songwriter style, while her folk and roots influences are evident on “Yosemite,” an ode to Yosemite National Park that expresses her interest in the environment and the inspiration she gets from nature.
Cools made a point to use real piano, guitar, and drums on the EP, resulting in an authentic sound that almost resembles a live recording. “It’s so easy these days to resort to samples,” she says. “And with some music, that works wonderfully. But for me, the authenticity of folk music and singer-songwriter music — it does it justice when you bring in those real instruments.”
She and her producer Enrique Lara, who was fairly new to producing, recorded the EP in his living room. “It was actually so much fun figuring out how to make things sound good and putting up blankets around the living room and tailoring the sound to what we were looking for and experimenting with things,” she says. “In the end, it was a really calming and welcoming space for me to record this EP.”
Hailing from Belgium, Cools is currently working on her first song in Flemish, her mother tongue. She’s also lived in Hong Kong, Budapest, and London at various points in her life, which she says has infused her music with an overarching message of solidarity and empathy. “I feel restless sometimes — I feel like I’m constantly searching for an identity and where I belong,” she says. “Sometimes, it’s good to ask ourselves deep questions and take risks and try living in new places. And I think moving around has given me the freedom to do that, because I’m not really from anywhere.”
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