Are we wasting our breath?" she sings in "Crowd Surf off a Cliff." Even more unnerving, "The Last Page" finds her cryptically singing, "Death is absolutely safe." But while the entire album could pass as a heartrending document of one woman's extremely troubled times, all Haines will say (and only after much prodding) is that Knives is "essentially about being grateful for what you have, even when your life is shit."
When she comes to San Francisco this week — a sequel to her July 2004 Cafe du Nord appearance, where she offered a rare sneak preview of an in-progress Knives — Haines will be accompanied by bassist Paul Dillon and Sparklehorse drummer Scott Minor, whom she's enlisted to help her "nail that Plastic Ono Band vibe." She'll then head back to England for another Metric tour and to start recording the band's third album. Later, if time allows, she hopes to play more solo gigs and eventually perform again with Broken Social Scene.
In other words, while fans may find it odd that Haines is suddenly mum about her solo music, they can take comfort that she's fast becoming one of the busiest artists in indie rock.
"It's weird," she says. "When people say to me how busy my life is, I suppose that I really am ridiculously busy. But to me, it just feels like being a musician. That's what I wanted to do and that's what I'm doing. I'm making music. It's not a job. It's my life. It's my friends and my family. So the more the better." SFBG
EMILY HAINES AND THE SOFT SKELETON
Fri/22, 9 p.m.
Cafe du Nord
2170 Market, SF