Ritual and pop aren't usually words that are associated with each other, but "ritual pop" is how Francine Thirteen describes her music and message. "Lust Heals, Give Me My Sin Again" is a meditative take on the Bible's creation story, mastered by the legendary Dave Cooley (J Dilla, M83, Madlib). Driven by chimes and other percussive elements, Francine Thirteen's wispy vocals introduce the characters of Adam, Eve and Lily, who is loosely based on the mythological figure Lilith.
"It's a reclaiming of female power as it relates to sexuality and knowledge of self," she tells NPR. "Eve kind of represents the unknowing, submissive and more socially acceptable aspect of female performance. The Lily character represents an empowered feminine essence that takes ownership over one's own thoughts and one's own body."
Lilith — Lily — has been considered both a demon and an empowered woman depending on cultural translations, but here, she exists as a personification of sexual agency. Similar spiritual themes and religious references weave themselves into much of Francine Thirteen's catalog. The Dallas singer was raised in a southern Baptist household, but feels compelled to seek out something else — a more feminine-based understanding of the divine, the hidden female face of God.
For the singer, the aim of "Lust Heals," which shares its name with her forthcoming EP and short film, is as personal as it is broad. "I'm kind of experiencing a period of blooming or coming into my own — really finding my voice and finding a level of comfortability with my own body," she says.
This has been Francine Thirteen's life's work, as women around the world have suffered under patriarchal interpretations of religious texts. Her message feels especially well-timed in a political environment where womanhood seems to be openly attacked.
"When I look at the world, the feminine essence in every way — body, mind and soul — is manipulated. It is used to sell things; it's the essence that drives the world," she says. "We do and perform so much labor, and we don't often understand the energy that we're giving up and that there's something that is owed back. That we have intrinsic value, and we should be commanding something in return up front."
Lust Heals, Give Me My Sin Again comes out this summer.