Midwife’s fourth studio album No Depression In Heaven explores themes of sentimentality, the interplay between dreams, memory, and fantasy, and a familiar subject seen throughout all of Midwife’s work: grief. Madeline Johnston takes a look at the tender and transcendent underneath the hard exterior of leather and studs, exposing a different side of the heavy music scene, where Johnston’s project has been living and evolving.

Inspired by ephemeral moments that make up life on tour, the totemization of vehicles, outlaws, and the psyche of America’s underbelly, No Depression In Heaven affirms Johnston’s existential status as a woman of the highway.

The album’s first single “Killdozer”— which premieres today— is an ode to a city lost in the aftermath of gentrification. It centers on the story of Marvin Heemeyer, a muffler repair shop owner who went on a demolition spree in a modified bulldozer before killing himself in a small Colorado town in 2004.


Written primarily in the backs of vans while on tour over the course of the past few years, No Depression In Heaven engages with the contemplative spirit of rock n roll from within a body in motion. While recording at home in New Mexico between 2021 and 2023, Johnston aimed to create something that was rough around the edges, returning to a free recording process that was less focused on perfection and more attuned to expressing the spirit that lives inside the songs.  But No Depression In Heaven is every bit as lush and hypnagogic as her 2020 full-length Forever or 2021’s Luminol.

“It’s about the transient nature of what we do,” Johnston says. “Our bodies are vessels –– our bodies are, together, a vessel, a vehicle, and that togetherness allows us to become something larger than ourselves in the slipstream of the unconscious, droving.” The fleeting moments are beads which might otherwise sit separate or scatter, but something like collective participation in an underground scene, or a series of 25 performances in 25 cities over the course of a month, has the power to string together these otherwise disparate or spectral elements.

Johnston’s ability to braid familiar and occasionally borrowed phrases into hypnotically minimalist but conceptually maximalist songs is as strong as it has ever been. This in particular, along with her penchant for pacing like dripping honey, nods to slowcore giants Low, while the sense that Johnston’s voice is arriving as a distant broadcast certainly calls to mind Slowdive’s Pygmalion or Grouper.

Midwife, however, is a project which so fearlessly commits to the tropes that characterize it that it has become a system unto itself. The effect is not solipsism, but a kind of endlessly generous idiosyncrasy that rewards repeated, close listens and dedicated fandom. However gauzy and ethereal, No Depression In Heaven never fails to clearly convey a lucid and inviting sense of personality. The album features collaborations with Chris Adolf and Michael Stein of American Culture, Ben Schurr and Tim Jordan of Nyxy Nyx, Angel Diaz of Vyva Melinkolya, and Allison Lorenzen.

Johnston may or may not believe that it’s literally possible to leave depression behind in the act of passing on, but she certainly believes that to thread the string, to weave and link the memories of lost friends, scenes, songs, and experiences: one has to trace the highway.

Look for No Depression In Heaven to be available September 6th.  Pre-order here and await more new music from Midwife to arrive soon.