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First Play: Overcoats, Young

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Andrea Gin

It may sound like a cliché, but sometimes it’s really just the simple things in music that provide the most enjoyment. Take, for instance, the joyful harmonies of New York-based electro-folk duo Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell, who make up Overcoats.

The magic of their partnership is such that the two knew they were meant to make music together from the first time they heard each other sing in a shared dormitory at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. They chose the name Overcoats because they wanted to put an extra layer between them and the world at large. “We wanted to be able to express our emotions freely and honestly, but remain protected by our name — genderless and sheltered,” Elion said in a recent interview with Nylon.

Listening to their new album, Young, the connection between Elion and Mitchell is palpable. Their voices combine in perfectly imperfect unison, delivering contemplative lyrics about family and relationships layered with sparse, unobtrusive electronics. You imagine them to be a pair that can finish each other’s sentences.

Their first single, "Hold Me Close," is a shining example of this.

“The song is about finding solace in the present when the future and past seem impossible to understand,” they said via press release. “It’s about loneliness and disillusionment that we can feel in relationships, and how we must persevere anyway in hopes of finding the beauty in love.”

Their unity and charm are also clearly on display in their endearing Tiny Desk session for NPR.


Thematically, the album is a coming-of-age journey about gaining life experience through family and relationships. It starts with the noisy but minimal sound sketch “Father” and ends with a sweet, slow burner called “Mother.” In between are songs about growing up, traversing relationships and being women in the music industry, all set to a backdrop of a joy-filled dance party between two best friends.

Young will be out on April 21 via Arts & Crafts. Overcoats are touring North America and the U.K. in the coming months, with stops in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. See dates here. Pre-order the album here.