Grace After a Party


1. SST

Basically I don't remember
staring at the switchboard in the house
trying to change the temperature.
And since I only have a cold
I should call my dad and go to bed.
While dialling in, the numbers start to sway:
"Don't you die before you're dead."

I'd know by now
If I leave this house, I'd leave my car
Trailing both my hands
'Cos I'm gaunt and cast
With my jawline melting
I'm a new Pierrot
Swaying on my ladder
And it's lucid these stories
They're stories - no endings.

All at once I am suspending
Belly-lift my standing hands and cool
The fiery eyes that line a cirque
The sultan sings in pink to tame the busters
The ballerina clips below
Naked in a haze of stamping dust
Glory be the whole damn thing.

I'd know by now
If I leave this house, I'd leave my car
Trailing both my hands
'Cos I'm gaunt and cast
With my jawline melting
I'm a new Pierrot!
Saying "I'm not gonna..."
And it's lucid these stories
They're stories - no endings.

"Sally come home and remember"
They just say
"Sally warm up it's much better"
And say
"Sally come home to redeem us -
Ballet dancers don't live in trailers"
And say..
"Sally come home to remember"
They just say
"Sally come home it's much better"
And say

2. Dancing with Lara

Dancing with Lara
I swing into circles and
Run into refuse that's swirling the street
Move like a carousel
Move like you're babies
Crawling the forest floor
As if you knew that you hadn't eaten

Now I'm in Perugia
I know I'm on top here
And pulled by narcotics
Taken by all
You're in the saddle
You're tryna be honest
I can see battles
Torn by your mind but
You don't have to be right.

Hoping that you're stable
Hoping that you're someone-somewhere soon
And you don't feel like it's a freedom for me
But I won't hold you to your word if you don't know
If you don't know.

I was violent, on fire
I had only one dance
One dance with Lara and then she turned back
Whilst it was tiring
I feel like myself again
Fallen for it now
And I was wrong

I wish I hadn't been your temporary,
I can tell you it doesn't feel so temporary now.

Oh my god
I was on fire
When you came down
And left me hanging with your eye-line on my back
Oh I was on fire
With you standing on the stair
Making me my own fool.

3. Piano 1

Caught in a rut
Throwing this cup at your tongue
And God heard you talk
I only see motionless mouths
And so I'll come
Far from the heart
And settle myself as some outlaw
Now, tell me a story,
Come on just rattle me out.

You can't just take your eyes off me
and hope we draw away complete
"Gonna leave when I want
I feed my heart alone"
You can't just move your mind from it!
"I made myself: I'm made complete
I can feel what I want"
but you know that you won't.

Good isn't rough
Drinking my cup you just hum - like you know
"Good's where we talk
Forget what we already know so
Come as you are"
Fuck you - it's not what I came for.
So just tell me a story,
Something to stop me spiralling out.

You can't just take your eyes off me
Cos I won't draw away complete
"Gonna leave when I want
I feed my heart alone"
You can't just move your mind from it!
"I made myself: I'm made complete"
You can't feel this all alone!
We're tied and that's the course of it.

I hurt.. I would say it hurts..
And I can't let you out.

I was taken round
By fables we spun on a spark.
Tell me how you
Can separate out.
Came here so I would talk to you
Make it like a talk
...Some hours

Courage from your taken tour
You know that I've not had enough
This time I won't be only trying
I'll be out and drawing the lines!

So curl your head I feel you tiring
Tiring won't abate your fire and
Firing won't keep me from kindness.
Hating won't...
Saying won't...

4. For Grace (after a Party)

While I was sweeping out your circle with a chalk and key
To know,
To pull a molar out my mouth and place it in your jaw.
A line...
Still you knock the cup, flip it spins and lands unspilled
To control:
Lift your arms to breathe it's harder, watch your armpit grow
You go -
You're a kite in your long coat you got there on your own
To her.
All the things that I forgot to say were left until the end.
I hoped we could still make friends and live in love together.

I want you to breakaway /
I wish you would wait.

I was on a left one
I was travelling in a lift
And I woke up with this

other woman in my head
I was listening to her London
I was playing with her words
Running through her paranoia
things she could have said.

Falling towards the light
I wasn't at the top yet
And if I hadn't met her
I'd be queuing at my bus stop
Fiddler in the roof
He cycles past - I hear it too!
I'm calling out your name
But you only tell my friends.

I was with her for the afternoon
Then I left her with myself
I texted all the people that
I thought that she could help

Trying to match up with my friends
She left me with all of her problems
And when I went back to the lift shaft
I was met by the back of my head.

5. Peeling

Peeling like a ceiling
When you walk your eyes close
When you hold my arm
You don't like letting go

Sleep thief
It's why we only had one photo
Of us with my eyes open
Then you are with someone else
Always feeling someone else
With your left hand

Can you fit your fist in?
Can I close it with my teeth?
Cover up a reddening complexion
With the idea, with a lie
That I've only got one connection in mind

If you only had one more
hour left to commit to me
If I was less attacking
If you were better enriched to commit to me
If I was less attaching
Chewing on your cheek
My mouth inside your mouth
Can taste it start to bleed
You're gonna spit me out!

But then you start to laugh
(Like noah in a whale)
I'm pushing with your breath
(...a tooth loose from a punch)
I'm falling out your gape
I'm the spittle in the air.

6. Horses

Mellow me out
(And on and on and on and on...)
Hooves on the heath bring a thunder down
Born to us - and mention...

I'm hoarding all
My glassy pools
In reach of mules
With white crosses for eyes
Horse in dark
Horses trample houses
Horses smooth
Horses kicking and
Meek and mild
Horses like me!
Foaming at the feet
Chomping at their teeth.

You're saying that you don't need anyone
but it's all you can talk about.

Horses fast
Breathing, sleeping
Dust and cuffs
Horses fasting and
Meek and mild
Horses like me!
Steaming in their seats
Smoking in their porches.

7. Peeling / Heaven

Keeping it outside me
I know that it's just like me
It's where it's so divisive
I'm only underlining
The places where there's kindness
In your left hand.

I'm not bold enough to be your heaven
Not tall enough
Not wide enough to be your..
Not far enough.

8. Estrella

Colour in the back of your mouth and settle
Wine stains at the stack of your house and I settle
Quaint and round as we're pedalling ground- it's so special.
All along they're playing that song.

White lines calling your eyes out to the corner of our house
And in the morning in our house
You're crawling out as I'm laying you down
It's so hetero.



It's always something terrible
When you wake me up in conversation
And we never made it vulnerable
I was listening but I wasn't patient.
I'm just letting you know..

Pulling your head from the steam I spill lemon
Headphones on and they're playing that rhyme
I fell asleep before I knew it's what they're playing all the time
Playing all the time at the top of your house.

All songs reach for their form to keep from ending their story
And the corner of your house
Is falling down as we're circling round.. I should head off.

Can you see your fortress when it comes down?
Balance keeps you in a crowd

Bar me like it's a Truman town
Quietly quietly I'm

falling down
And they say it's like a New Moon town

I brush my coat down and sit down next to you
And the silence that precedes it
It's like nothing
It's like nothing ever was.

9. [flowers]

With my cheek I'm idle
Smudging at the window
and I feel your fingers
Wrapping round my solo
and it lays me down
Pressing on the carpet
When you close my eyes
Do it with your fingers.

And it's only now
After taking patients
and my fire fills up
Flaring with some anxious
I can hear a gentle
Someone saying sing me
Something better
Better than you're feeling

My love, my love makes it all louder,
Time out, time that makes me forage powers
My love starts from people calling 'my love'
When their love waits another hour.

I'm slouching
/And it's late
Oh my heart
My anger
/Grows might take
There's a pull of chorus
/Pull of models cooing me up
/They touch me mark my face out
/I'm launching from the hand on my cheek
Oh my heart my ribs grow
/The thumb I know, the pull of the palm
and the fools don't know what's wrong
/that lays on, lays on, lays on me.
But I've got my memory on it.
/Ride it high in your navel
/Like the wind hits a waveform

My love, my love wakes up to its humming
By now blazing tirades have me burnt out
My eyes crying out all this tannin
Be louder but morning talk won't allow it.

My love, my love makes it all louder
(It's) your now Mima! Time to climb from this tower,
My love starts from people talking powers
My love waits another hour.

10. New Recording / Reaching

Reaching for something farther out
Something deeper
Something worldly

I can speak of you
If you need me to
I'll sing of a pain
Make it work again.

I was on my back
Reaching out to fill my shoulders in the cracks.
In light and limbo,
I'm in August in a bus watching you be.
Just to sleep
With a hard look on your face in folded arms -
Come on, keep your fire.

In shifting moon
Lying turgid 8 months later thinking how
you speak of dreams.
I know they're lucid - you only mention them
halfway through the afternoon
Like you're letting us know
Where you were all this time.

Reaching for something farther out
Something deeper
Something worldly.

11. the Well of...

Call my light on
It's only dark I know
and the water runs out
From the same tap now
You're a killer inside you're a pusher
You beat me down and pat my head
You're a controller.

I roll my windows down
I like the way the sound
Moves around all the cabins that I'm in
and I prefer the silence
In the morning
Please don't talk to me
I liked the way it was...

And I'm waiting
For someone to say that it's okay
And I'm waiting
I am sitting - making my way one way, but not the other.
And I'm trying
but it doesn't seem to be possible that someone who knows me
Walks in my direction
and it's painful to say the least:
That I'm not lonely but I am.
I am.

(and now I walk in as the cars go by my door
I want one more love one more chance)

Contrast the snow
I was not bold enough
Although you show
I wasn't ready for it at all
I jumped and fell
200 miles down
into the well...

To exist in the world requires finding ways to cope with what is often so much disappointment. Communication fails. Lovers leave. Attempts at connection can lead to deeper isolation, especially when you’re already marginalized by society. For multi-hyphenate artist Jemima Coulter (of Hailaker), stories offer one such way to cope. The songs on their debut solo album Grace After a Party exist in an impressionistic reverie, somewhere between a hallucination and the waking world. Populated by stories of body-swapping and clowns, Coulter’s music takes us beyond the personal, traveling from London to Perugia, to the circus and the sea. But for Coulter, stories aren’t simply an escape route, a way out of a painful reality; instead they offer a resting place for the weary traveler — a glimpse of real magic in a portrait of the surreal.


The recordings on Grace were cultivated during a period of determined isolation after a failed romantic gesture. In 2019, Coulter followed a dancer to Marseille, not realizing they would have little time to spare. Left alone to wander the dusty city streets, Coulter passed the days listening to Henry Miller’s The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder, which tells the story of a clown who wants to create lasting ecstasy in his audience. Eventually he gives up and spends his time moping around cities. Like the clown, Coulter also gave up chasing happiness in other people. They returned home to Bristol determined to find clarity and purpose within themselves.


Album opener “SST'' invokes the clown, telling the story of someone who joins the circus in the haze of a fever. “With my jawline melting, I’m a new Pierrot swaying on my ladder,” Coulter sings over a driving beat and loose, gritty guitar strums. But as the chorus comes to its climax, the instruments dissipate abruptly. “And it’s lucid, these stories. They’re stories, no endings,” Coulter sings, reminding us of the sometimes thin line between metaphor and fact before their words are subsumed under the forceful weight of electric guitars and percussion.


The buoyant “Dancing with Lara” paints a picture of someone wandering the streets of Perugia thinking of people far-away. There's palpable freedom in the movement, tempered by profound longing. “I wish I hadn’t been your temporary. I can tell you it doesn’t feel so temporary now,” Coulter sings in a moment of stark vulnerability, evoking the visceral impact of romantic disillusionment. Later, “Estrella” opens bare-boned, just Coulter’s voice over smooth acoustic guitar strums as they summon a recognizably mundane scene of a relationship doomed to fail. “And in the morning in our house, you’re crawling out as I’m laying you down. It’s so hetero,” they jab. It’s a cheeky aside from one queer person to another. But there’s also sadness there, the frustration of an outsider realizing they’ve succumbed to the very societal structures they’ve long resisted.


Raised on classical music in Hampshire without context for what was popular, 24-year-old Coulter has developed a sound meticulously their own. “I’ve never thought about how anything’s supposed to sound,” they say. “I don’t have a reference point apart from what I think sounds good. I just want to make music that’s different every time you listen to it.” They recorded and produced most of Grace at home, playing everything besides drums, which were contributed by Stan Glendinning (Goya) and recorded at his house. The recordings are steeped in the intimacy and playfulness that comes from the limitations of making a record this way — Coulter’s layered, affected vocals, recorded sometimes directly into an iPhone, soar over pulsating synths, lilting piano, swirling guitars and jaunty percussion; songs meander through distinct movements, leaving us in entirely different landscapes than where we began them; a chorus of friends — including Ella Williams (Squirrel Flower) — join Coulter on background vocals. These are big songs made through an introspective process, a careful balance between chaos and control.


Throughout the record, we hear Coulter reaching beyond themselves toward a tender yet magical universality. What results is a pastiche of remembered, dreamed and imagined fragments, an album that feels as visual as it does auditory. “I created somewhere I could escape to,” says Coulter. “I imagined people in my mind, had conversations I’d never had. It seems to have created an album that’s a hallucination where I’m half me, half someone else.” But there’s a sense of coming full-circle in these songs, a reminder that as much as we try to reach beyond, we remain invariably ourselves. “They were all stories I was telling myself,” Coulter says, “and then I realized that there was something I needed to say, that it wasn’t just a story, but something about me as well.”

~ A.O. Gerber, 2022

Special thanks to… Ali Lacey, Andy Inglis, George O’Brien, Tristan Wilson, Paddy Kinsella, Peter Suk and the team at Koze. A.O, Chris, Corinne, Fran and Carmen for helping me create a visual and written world. Tobi and Ed for the constant support and love. To the friends and mentors who’ve pushed and pulled me along - Helen, Christie, Essy, Mr Poore, Melvyn, Arthur, Rafi, Rich, Elena, Oscar, Zip, Ella. Ian and Alison for everything, Ben for your encouragement on that drive back from Stourhead in 2017, Kate, Dan and Sam for your food and your ears that summer, Max for your guitars and your CDs. Paula, Amy and Hari for walks. Marseille for the inspiration.

~ Jem