Pretty in Scarlet

by Murder Ballads

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Digipak CD release of our first album, with photography by Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein, artwork by Catt Kingsgrave, and package design by Adam Fromm and Andrea Medaris.

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released November 18, 2014

Catt Kingsgrave: vocals, bass, kazoo, guitar
Adam Fromm: vocals, guitar

Marnen Laibow-Koser: violin (1, 9, 10), viola (4)
Heather Dale: vocals (11)
Ben Deschamps: electric guitar (11)
S.J. Tucker: djembe, shaker (11)
Ken Ernstein, Michelle Gore, Andrea Medaris: vocals (12)
Matt Young: bodhran (13)

produced and mixed by Joel Lord
mastered by Frankford Wayne Mastering
recorded at Mandala House in Troy, NY, 2013 & 2014

cover photo by Ken Kingsgrave-Ernstein


tags: folk


all rights reserved


Murder Ballads

Original and traditional folk, plus assorted covers from filk to prog to quasi-goth to, yes, murder ballads. (Actual murder not included. Probably.)

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Track Name: Step It Out, Mary
Step It Out Mary

In the village of Kildori There’s a maiden young and fair
Her eyes they shone like diamonds She had lovely golden hair
When the country man came riding Up to her father’s gate
Mounted on a milk-white stallion He came at the stroke of eight

Oh, step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
Marry if you can
Oh, step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
Show your legs to the wealthy, to the wealthy man

“I’ve come to court your daughter Mary of the golden hair
I have land and I have money I have goods beyond compare
I’ll buy her silk and satin And a gold ring for her hand
I’ll build for her a mansion She’ll have servants to command”


“I don't want your gold and silver. I don't want your house and land
Oh, I'm in love with a soldier and I've promised him my hand!”
But her father spoke up quick and sharp “You’ll do as you are told
You’ll be married on this Sunday And you’ll wear his ring of gold”


In the village of Kildori There’s a deep stream running by
They found Mary there at midnight Where she drowned with her soldier boy
But in the cottage, there was music And you could hear her father say
“Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter Don’t you know it’s the wedding day”
Track Name: IDK

I don’t know how to love you but I do know how to kill you.
I know how far to dig to reach the chambers of your heart.
I don’t know how to love you but I know what it would look like
If I cut you open, split you wide, and kissed your sweetest parts.

I don’t know how to trust you, but I do know how to hurt you
Just where your spine’s the weakest, and how to blind your eyes.
I don’t know how to trust you, but I know what you can stomach
And when all else fails, I know just how to get my favorite rise.

I know – the things I know you wish I didn’t
I know – the things I know could kill.
I know the secret things that make you tick and make you sick
And make you wish that time was standing very still.

I don’t know how to talk to you, but I know how to break you
To make you know there’s no one, no where, nothing else but me.
I don’t know how to talk to you, but I know how to trap you,
But if you're good, I swear I'll almost always set you free.
Track Name: This Way
This Way
By Catt Kingsgrave

I like it best when the lights are off
When the curtain's down, and the masks are doffed
When you got needs, and baby, I do too
And they both fit together like they don't need glue
And I like it! You know I like it this way;
No sleaze, no tease, no debts to pay
Yeah, I like it; this particular bliss
When nothing's on the table except for this...

I like it best when the hunger growls
And you got to follow where it prowls
It ain't no bargain, and it ain't no score;
It's just once you tasted it, you gotta have more
Because you like it -- yeah, it flows like wine
When you get yours, and baby, I get mine.
And I like it; we're tangled up real tight
And gettin' them knots undone could take all night...

Baby, don't underrate it,
Baby, don't make this bad.
Baby, we all get jaded,
But that don't mean that there ain't no fun to be had!

I like it best when the heat's up high
The sweat trickling right down your thigh.
When the trumpets wail and the baseline pounds
And you know in your bones you got to get on down
Because you like it, and you want it again
Cause it ain't a game when everybody wins.
Yeah, you like it -- ain't no need to hide,
Just grab that baseline tight... and baby, let's ride

Right on, ride it like you like it.
How you like it?
Baby, show me how you like it...
Track Name: Driven Like the Snow
Driven Like the Snow
By Andrew Eldrige

Still night, nothing for miles

White curtain come down
Kill the lights in the middle of the road
And take a, take a look around
It don't help to be one of the chosen

One of the few to be sure

When the wheels are spinning around

And the ground is frozen through

And you're driven like the snow

Pure in heart,
Driven together

And given away to the west

A white dress but still the river don't run
A black dress looking like mine

'Til the sun don't shine no more

Where the sky meet the ground

Where the street fold round
Where the voice you hold don't make no sound

Look snow on the river and two by two

Took a lot to live, a lot like you,

I don't
Go there now, but I hear they sung their
'Fuck Me And Marry Me Young'

Some wild idea and a big white bed, now

You know better than that, I said

Like a voice in the wind blow little crystals down
More like brittle things will break before they turn

Like a lipstick on my cigarette

And the ice get harder overhead

Like think it twice but never, never learn

And the mist will wrap around us

And the crystal, if you touch it

And the cars lost in the drift are there

And the people that drive lost in the drift are there
And the cares I've lost in the drift are there

Theirs, ours, lost in the drift are

Track Name: Dead Egyptian Blues
Dead Egyptian Blues
By Michael Peter Smith

Oh Mister Tut what good's it do
They love your chair but nobody cares for you
Egyptian nights were never colder
And all your friends are thousands of years older
Whatever happened to that gang down by the Sphinx
Seems they're only forty winks away
Those girls from Cairo with their belly button jewels
Made you play the fool yesterday yesterday
Now you keep in shape with Elmer's glue
Man you're all wrapped up in them dead Egyptian blues
Oh Mister Tut they love the mask
But do they love you honey sweetheart don't ask
Where's those baby browns and that pearly smile
That smile that drove 'em wild by the early Nile
You make one terrific hieroglyphic don't you bro'
Centuries of standing sideways turned you to a pro
Those girls from Cairo who filled your heart with lust
They've all turned to dust yesterday yesterday
And those bandages didn't do that much for you
Man you're all wrapped up in them dead Egyptian blues
Oh Mister Tut they dig the tomb
All that gold leaf brightens up a room
But what's the diff when you're stiff what riff they're playing
When your ears have spent five thousand years decaying
What does it matter what possessions you may boast
When you're just a ghost it's only jive clive
Your sarcophagus is glowing but your esophagus is showing
Who cares how rich you are love
When you look like Boris Karloff
And they even named this dog food after you
Man you're all wrapped up in them dead Egyptian blues
Oh Mister Tut you wait and see
Another few thousand years they're gonna dig up me
And I'll have all my little treasures near at hand
A CD of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
A little dried out Maui wowee crumbled in a bong
A letter from my honey saying Love you kid so long
Some peanut butter sandwiches that have long returned to sand
Not much gold or silver but Tut I think you'll understand
That in my way I'll be just like you
All wrapped up in them dead Egyptian blues
All wrapped up
All wrapped up
All wrapped up in them dead Egyptian blues
Track Name: Kessel Run
Kessel Run
By Adam Fromm

Well, I hope you don’t mind me interrupting you miss
What’s a girl like you doing on a planet like this?
I really wouldn’t mind spending time with you
My name might be Solo, but I’m built for two
A little bit o’ booze, a little bit o’ nookie
And a little joy ride with a seven-foot Wookie
Gonna run

See, I’ve got the Millennium Falcon fired up
She’s hotter than hell and too crazy to catch
I’ve got a double-barreled warp drive running the engine
And half a pound of ganja in the smuggling hatch
Fuzzy dice hanging from the hyperspeed button
Hang on to your hat, girl, ’cause here goes nuthin’
Gonna run
Gonna run
Gonna run

We’re gonna run
Fill up my glass, ain’t gonna say when
‘Cause tonight we’re gonna do the Kessel Run again
Gonna run

Yeah, we’re gonna do the Kessel Run, looking to score
It’s something I’ve only done a thousand times before
I’ve got one hand on the throttle, the other in the stash
You count up the parsecs, I’ll count up the cash
Stormtrooper slugs ain’t gettin’ any nearer
‘Cause they’re just a little freckle in the rearview mirror
Gonna run

So strap yourself in, I’ll show you what she’s got
We’re only breaking the law if we ever get caught
See, I don’t care much about Imperial ships
‘Cause she’s specially designed to give ‘em the slip
Ten times faster, three-quarters lighter
And a hundred times a sexy as an X-wing fighter
Gonna run
Gonna run
Gonna run

We’re gonna run
Fill up my glass, ain’t gonna say when
‘Cause tonight we’re gonna do the Kessel Run again
Gonna run

And if there’s time, we can stop at a little cantina
‘Cause I’m working up a powerful thirst
Or a no-tell motel that we can check into
‘Cause the bedroom is the only place I don’t shoot first
I don’t wanna stay around here any more
Let’s meet down at docking bay 94
We’ll turn the lights down low, get things rollin’
Then you and me can—Hey! Where’re you goin’?
Don’t run away, you can’t do this to me….
[sigh] Looks like it’s you and me again tonight, Chewie
Gonna run
Gonna run
Gonna run
Gonna run
Track Name: Matty Groves Blues
Matty Groves Blues
Adapted by Catt Kingsgrave

A holiday, a holiday, you know the first one of the year
Judge Arlen's wife, she went to the church, the Gospel for to hear.

And when the meeting it was done, she took a look around
And oh my soul, that Matty Groves, he came a walking through the crowd.

"Come home with me, pretty Matty. Come on home with me tonight,
Because the sheets are red on my featherbed, and you know I'll treat you right."

"Oh, I can't go home along with you, though you're a lovely sight,
For your diamond ring tells me one thing; that a rich man calls you wife."

"It's true, I am Judge Arlen's wife, but Arlen, he ain't home.
He's gone down to the river town, and won't mind him where I roam."

Little Matty Groves, he lay him down and he took a little sleep
But when he woke, the man of the house was standing at his feet

Saying "How do you like my bed boy, and how d'you like them sheets?
And how do you find that wife of mine who lies right there asleep?"

"Now it's a fine old featherbed, and these sure are fancy sheets
But oh my eyes, she takes the prize though sure she'll cost me steep."

"Get up, get dressed!" Judge Arlen cried, "Get on your feet and stand!
For when you're dead it won't be said that I killed a naked man!"

"No, I can't get up, I won't get up, I can't get up for my life.
For by my word you got two swords, and I've got just this pocket knife."

"Well these swords are long and oh so sharp and they cost me deep in the purse
So you take the one you fancy, son, and you leave me with the worse,

And you'll strike out the first blow, and you strike it like a man
'Cause the second blow is mine to throw, and I'll kill you where you stand!"

Then Matty struck like lightning, cut Arlen straight to the ground
But the Judge's sword had the final word, and little Matty, he stayed down.

Then old Judge Arlen took his wife and he sat her on his knee
Saying "Raise your eyes and choose your prize; that dead man there, or me!"

Well, she gave back a cold, clear smile, and she spoke her mind out free
"I'll take a kiss from dead Matty's lips before you lay your hand to me!"

And then Judge Arlen, up he jumped and loudly he did bawl
And with Matty's knife, he took his wife and he... pinned her to the wall

Old Arlen, he washed up his hands and he rode on back to town
While the servants dug in the river's mud and they laid those lovers down.

Now we could end this story here, and some would call it right
But rivers flood, and that thick black mud, well it don't hold secrets tight.

And the law don't favor lovers; it don't care for jealousy
And the killin' stain don't heed no fame when a guilty man walks free.

House and lands can't hush it when your secrets find the light
And your wealthy kin disown your sin, that rope so taut just can't be bought
So Arlen paid for his hasty blade more dear... than ever he thought!
Track Name: Five
By Catt Kingsgrave

One. One, we greeted with wonder.
What we had was a fortune I'd never quite dared to dream of
We were young and the world couldn't tear us asunder
But it watched and it listened, and treasured the magic we had.

Oh what we would be, if the Fates and Fortuna were with us,
Oh what we should be with our faith and our passion and drive
I was blind to all possible paths but the one that I dreamed of
And our love would be all we would need to survive,
But we only lasted for five.

Two and three; we pushed at the limits and borders
And we grew into shapes we had never imagined taking
Ecstasy was too often hid under rewards
Setting coin on the value of making a dream,

But oh what we could do when the passion took fire between us,
Finding our purview 'neath the weight of rebellion and pride
We were racing as fast as we could, but in different directions
Hoping skill and conviction could keep us alive,
And somehow we lasted for five.

With four came our season of silence,
Asking what in the world all the dreaming had really been for
Questions became little tyrants
And I taught myself how to look out at the world
And admit that I just didn't know what the hell went wrong.

Then came our magical number.
It all came back like it never had gone, and then some
We made love, we made magic and fire and thunder
And reaching our zenith, we blew ourselves out of the sky.

But oh, what we could've been, if the love had been stronger than ego,
And oh what we would've been, had the passion run deeper than pride.
It comes down to a handful of years, and an aching remembrance
And a path that we walked, to a place we could never arrive,
'Cause we only walked it for Five.
Track Name: 'Till We Have Faces
Till We Have Faces
By Dave Carter

My joy and I held candles before the frozen throne
She in her winged sandals, I in my boots of stone.
She in her silken flora, I in my leather drear
She with the grace of Kora upon the road of tears
And did they see us shining through winter's dark decree
those Gods of time and dying, whom reason doom to me?

Came bright the Dove of April, good Summer in her wake
The Eaglet in her cradle, and Autumn's golden Snake
Who was it caught my dearest in snares of shallow will
To bind her frail and fearless upon their hallowed hill
Come now you crawling spider, dire wolf, and driving rain
My heart will sleep beside her secure as iron chains

(I am stretched on your grave and will lie there forever
With your hand held in mine, I'd be sure we'd not sever.
My apple tree, my brightness, t'is time we were together,
For I smell of the earth and am worn by the weather.)

I climb the hill at evening to bury my delight
(The priests and the friars behold me in dread)
No sign of bone or cleaving no shadow of her flight
(Because I still love you, my dear, when you're dead)
Behold the unmade chalice, the wine that has no taste
(And would still be your shelter from rain and from storm)
The bare and phantom palace she made of my embrace
(But with you in the cold grave, I cannot sleep warm)
And so these endless mazes, these winters without end
We roam till we have faces to feel the spring again.
Track Name: Strowler's Song
Strowler's Song
By Adam Fromm

The scenery is constantly unfolding
Though every slab of asphalt looks the same
And I feel like I could step out on the shoulder
And greet every last mile marker by its name
Still sometimes I wonder just what all of this is worth
Body pressed against the bedroll, bedroll pressed against the earth
And if you took the time to ask me, I don't think I could explain
Unless you let me raise my voice in song again

There are stories in the vapor trail
Stories in the tracks
There are stories in my footprints
The ones that won't turn back
And I've got songs trapped in my lungs
With every breath I let them fly
As I sing for my supper
Then I sing for the ride

There are nights when I lose track of where I've stumbled
So I search my clothing, tabulate the clues
Is this the rain from Puget Sound that soaked my jacket?
Is this Murfreesboro red clay on my shoes?
But I don't forget the faces, I can still retain that much
Every hand that brought me whiskey, brought me bread or brought me touch
And for the things that are not given, for the things you have for sale
Let me turn my pockets out and spend a tale

And it's not that I'm not subject to the cold
It's not that hunger doesn't sweep me like the tide
And I thank you for your offer
But I really must be going
Couldn't quit this if I wanted
Couldn't stop it if I tried

I won't be envied, won't be held as an example
Unless I find myself a fellow fool
But still I'm welcomed into your home and by your fire
Though I'm a walking condemnation of the rules
But don't believe I'm lonely, don't believe I bear that shame
Every story has a face, and every song has got a name
And don't waste your goodbyes, the very word goodbye is wrong
This road is far too short to stay away for long
Track Name: The Ballad of Captain America's Disapproving Face
The Ballad of Captain America's Disapproving Face
By Catt Kingsgrave

Yesterday in New York City, Dr. Richards made a call,
Through the trans-dimensional portal he'd just finished down the hall.
But the charges were accepted by an ancient, alien beast
And its army – the Avengers were not pleased, to say the least.
If you can't tell the Captain what you're doing, Richards
Your plan has probably got a deadly fault,
No, if you can't tell the Captain what you're up to, maybe
You shouldn't get up to it at all!

Now it wasn't long ago that Iron Man took up a cause,
To enforce a kind of order, make the super-powered pause
So he compromised his ethics and his honor and his friends
Till he won! But what he lost just wasn't worth it in the end
So if you can't tell the Captain what you're up to, Tony
It won't be only him that looks appalled.
No, if you can't tell the Captain what you're planning, genius
You shouldn't plan to do the thing at all.

But it isn't just the Futurists who need some common sense
For SHIELD has screwed its share of pooches without recompense.
In the name of world security a man must sometimes lie
But it isn't just integrity that winds up compromised.
If you can't tell the Captain what you're up to, Fury,
You won't like how the chips are gonna fall
Cause if you can't tell the Captain what you're meddling with
You shouldn't meddle with it at all.

(Kazoo bridge -- Star Spangled Man)

Now I won't say Cap's infallible, or that he's always right
He's temperamental, judgey, and dear God, the man's uptight
But that conscience is a litmus test, his ethics sure and sound
So just meet his eye and own your shit, or put that shovel down.
Cause if you can't tell the Captain what you're up to, People
You probably wanna make a different call.
No, if you can't tell the Captain what you're messing with
You probably oughtn't mess with it at all

If you can't tell the Captain what you're up to, Agents...
(Purge the file and leave no trace!
Here comes the Captain's frowny face!)

No, if you can't tell the Captain what you're up to, Heroes...
(Guilty? Anxious? Feel like hell?
Better get ready with a memory spell!)

If you can't tell the Captain what you're up to, People...
(Thinking twice is such a bore!
That's what Captain America's for!)

If you can't tell the Captain what you're damn well up to
Then don't damn well get up to it at all!
Track Name: Battle Raven
Battle Raven
By Catt Kingsgrave

I am one sword out of many, I am one face out of three
The Maiden, Crone, and Mother live united within me
For I am woman's fury, and her honour and her pain
And before this day is over, oh, the blood shall fall like rain!

Bring me thunder, bring me steel, bring me coat of iron mail
Bring me diamond hardened will and let my courage never fail.
Bring the Lightning to my sword; lashing, living in my hand
And bring warning to the horde that here, the Battle Raven stands.

I am wind and rain and fire, I am venom, blood, and tears.
I can raise a fury higher than the worst of mortal fears
I am woman for the women and the children and the home
I will raise my cry in battle with an army -- or alone!

When the Raven stands to battle, I will heed no pleading word
I will grant no foeman quarter; fallen men raise not the sword.
For I know no rules of warring; this is not some bloody game
This is kill, or die in trying, 'cause your foe will do the same!

I will sing to bring the thunder crashing down from out the sky
And I'll sing to light the souls of all the warriors soon to die
And I will sing in battle, bloody songs of power and pain
And I will sing tonight for War to never come again.