Everything was looking up for Chelsea Mitchell and her project Dirty Dollhouse. She was already admired in her hometown of Philadelphia with regular bookings at the elusive Johnny Brenda’s and a trove of dedicated fans. A month before her EP was scheduled for release, her new single “Honey, They’re Onto Us” was getting some play from everyone’s favorite Philly radio station WXPN. The stars seemed to be lining up ready to push her into the national spotlight. The universe, however, had other plans, and with her EP Queen Coyote dropping on 3/6/20, Chelsea, along with so many others, had to accept that life happened while we were busy making other plans.
Honestly, If I wasn’t looking for it, I might have missed Queen Coyote. Checking to see if the Newtown Theater was resuming business in the spring of 2021, I stumbled upon a quote from the local record store owner about performing at the theater, and decided to give her music a listen. The songwriting is dense and pensive. The arrangements are both nostalgic and original. Having briefly met her once while shopping for Elton John records, I was struck by her humility. These songs are good, and not like “I met her once so I’m biased good,” more like “this can compete with anything I’ve heard this year good.”
Chelsea runs a vinyl and used books store in a small town and unassumingly writes poetic novellas like “Hollywood Love Songs” and “Love You Anymore.” She records at a local recording studio and enlists other local troubadours to play in her band, including August John Lutz II of Levee Drivers. The music is authentic because she is authentic, a small town romantic, discarding conventional societal rulebooks and paving her way as an entrepreneur and musician; doing both modest and true.
You could try to piece together all of the cute lines from your book of poetry but only someone with real life experiences could write songs like Hollywood Love Song. Chelsea uses every song for a chance to tell a story and immortalize her lovers. On the EP’s 2nd song, “The powerful Underdog,” Chelsea asks, “How many ways can I say, I’m never gonna leave again.”She has no plans on giving up, like any true artist, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey that we live for. It’s only a matter of time before the alt country world takes notice. She belongs up there with Brandi Carlile and Kasey Musgraves, but hits a little more like Dolly Parton. Give the entire EP a strong listen, the instrumentation is phenomenal, and her voice is magical. Electric guitarist August John Lutz II, Bassist Josh Machiz, and drummer Eric Lawry perfectly plant their moves around her vocal cues. The tone and sounds are set between alt-country and the indie rock Philly hometown sound.
Queen Coyote is a little over a year old, but it deserves a re-release. It didn’t have the chance to get an honest review, coming out literally days before the entire world shut down. Dirty Dollhouse is doing a real good job of keeping it together, with shows planned around their hometown this summer. They should be in the national spotlight with songs like these. On, “Honey, They’re Onto Us,” Chelsea closes the song pleading “I’m Getting Out.” She just might have a clue where she’s headed with tracks like these.
Give Queen Coyote a listen and hear Dirty Dollhouse and all of our favorite new artists on our Best New Indie playlist.