Written by Amythyst Kiah
Whereas “Black Myself” acted as both a reintroduction to Amythyst Kiah’s solo work ahead of her to-be-released Rounder Records debut as well as a reclamation of a long, violent history, second single “Wild Turkey” looks inward – and in doing so, delivers a pain and yearning that’s universal.
“Wild Turkey” is, simply put, a re-visitation of Kiah’s past and her mother’s suicide that occurred when she was just a teenager. And it captures the same simultaneous feelings of anger, grief, and lingering confusion over it reminiscent of, say, Allison Moorer’s 2019 concept album, Blood, that not only changed Kiah in that moment, but also left scars just as difficult to revisit years after the fact. And the most gutting thing about it is how Kiah knows that, and her acknowledgment of her walling herself off for years just to escape the pain only to have to eventually confront it anyway adds a devastatingly weighted subtext. Instead of expecting to eventually find clarity or answers or, at the very least, come to peace with it, all Kiah can do is hope it brought peace for her mother – a response in and of itself that takes years to cultivate and push toward, but doesn’t erase those scars.
The production is fairly straightforward to start, with the moody acoustics pushed to the forefront and the synthetic elements left to linger to cultivate that haunting atmosphere and strengthen its somber melodic structure. But beyond Kiah’s weathered, solemn delivery that’s in a masterclass of its own here, it’s only after remembering that titular bottle of whiskey in the front seat and hoping it brought a final peace for the pain it was causing, leaving Kiah to note that anyone left to dictate their own final moments has lost themselves anyway, that the booming drums and strings kick in and the tension heightens for Kiah to deliver that thunderous crescendo. It’s not cathartic, though, and nothing may ever provide that for her. All it’s done is provide what will undoubtedly be one of 2021’s best songs.