Rae Spoon's 'Not Dead Yet' Dances in the Face of Mortality

BY Francis BaptistePublished Aug 9, 2023

The mere existence of Not Dead Yet is a testament to the perseverance and determination of songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and author Rae Spoon. In March of 2020, Spoon was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer. In the face of this adversity, Spoon managed to create an album that continually acknowledges their own mortality while also somehow finding joy and beauty in the battle to keep going. Not Dead Yet is a common mantra among those battling cancer, a reminder that they're still alive and fighting. It's the perfect title for an album that intimately chronicles Spoon's journey these past few years.

Despite the fact that every song on Not Dead Yet deals with the morbid reality of living in the face of death, each one is surprisingly and refreshingly uplifting and optimistic. A prime example of this juxtaposition is in third track "Living More," which features a fantastically effective and life-affirming hook in the lyrics "Since I almost died I've been living more." Set over a backdrop of various keyboards and upbeat drum machines, the song is a microcosm of the entire album — proposing a very serious theme while leaving plenty of room to dance.

Throughout the album, there seems to be a conscious effort to ensure that this collection of songs about fighting cancer isn't all doom and gloom. In a song like "Shake Shake Shake" —  about processing the fear that's bound to come with a potentially fatal battle ahead — the terror is presented in a way that, above all, is catchy and rhythmic. It's almost as if the drive of the beat is symbolic of the drive and optimism required to push your way through the unknown.

And like most of the songs on Not Dead Yet, there's a point where the sad reality gives way to the clarity of survival, of knowing that they want to stand tall through it all. "I can feel the lights / I can hear the stage / I've been all over the world / I want to do it all again," Spoon sings, the words of an artist who isn't finished giving their art to the world. It's a heavy subject, and Not Dead Yet is a heavy album. But it's also full of vitality and joy, a remind of life's triumphant goodness. 
(Coax Records)

Latest Coverage