What happens when a blues singer takes on beach pop? Give Icelandic artist Lay Low’s catchy new single a listen and you’ll find out. “The Backbone” is alluring not only for the bright guitar lines and vocal harmonies driving the chorus, but also because it is haunting- in the best of ways.
It begins ominously: abstract sounds giving way to a blues guitar grooving under sultry vocals. The song is self-referential, through cryptic lines like “The backbone of what I’ve become has taken over me”. As in her previous work, there is a percussive cadence to Lay Low’s lyrics as she sings about persisting despite hardship and uncertainties: “Let go of the burden that brings you down, Let go of regret and shame, Let go, shake it off and start again…”.
The musical structure is straightforward, but there are layers beneath the simplicity that inspire obsession. The rolling tempo is strangely soothing, the melodies easy but engrossing. As soon as it ends, I want to listen to it again.
The influence of Johnny Cash is loud and clear in Lay Low’s music, and certainly so on this song, which sets the bar high while wetting palates for the rest of the album. Until that is released, I’ll just keep listening to this song- on repeat.
Download it (for free!) for yourself from her website. Go now.