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.
You just watch this video and tell me you don’t want to go see these guys play live.
(thank you, theaboundingrhythm, for letting me borrow this video from the show last week in Iowa.)
If you haven’t heard of The Lumineers yet, well, I’m not sure where you’ve been. The Denver-based band came blasting out of SXSW, their infectious new album is hot off the presses (as of April 3rd) and their national tour (with the Kopecky Family Band) is well underway. They are headed back to the east coast (New York being where the band first took shape) starting on Tuesday the 17th where they’ll be kicking things off in Burlington. Suffice it to say that their boisterous show is not to be missed (you don’t have to take my word alone for it: almost all of their shows are sold out).
These guys and a girl have found a musical and performance style all their own, and their complete lack of bombast is refreshing. Their songs are Americana folk rock at its most sincere and their performances are little more than opportunities to jam with an audience. Not only are they selling out shows everywhere they go, but also their self-titled album is climbing the Billboard charts and their hit single “Ho Hey” (from the video above) is being highlighted on radio stations and music magazines across the country. I was one of many who was blown away by them when I saw them play in Austin (read about that show here) and since then have had no trouble turning everyone I point in their direction into fans.
For anyone yet to be persuaded, get your tickets now for the shows in Burlington, Northhampton or Fairfield, or else beg, borrow or steal your way into securing a ticket for the sold-out shows in Boston or Brooklyn at the end of the week. Whatever it takes, it’s worth it. You can take my word for it.
We’re producing a series of plays at the Cooper Union, which, as is pointed out, has what is really more of a lecture hall than a theater space.
R., who has pointed out the above, also points out “Abraham Lincoln gave a speech there.”
K. responds, “Ah. But theater was really a hit or miss thing for him, wasn’t it”
I look at him and roll my eyes.
“What? It’s not too soon,” he cracks, “that was like a hundred years ago!”
image from laborarts.org