Singles: Hemlock – Drive & Drive/Hyde Park

Drive & Drive/Hyde Park is the delightful double-lead single from alt-folk experimenters Hemlock, led by self-proclaimed ‘swamp-raised’ chief songwriter and overall creative force Carolina Chauffe. Released in June, it acts as early  teaser for the full-band album, 444 (coming out in October) and a mighty fine introduction it is too.

Drive and Drive is a glorious thing- powerful and arresting- presenting the listener with a stream of consciousness dissection of life on the road. Here colliding images are pieced together like the flickering shots of land and life seen through the moving window’s vista- it’s wonderfully evocative stuff. It makes sense that Chauffe, though based at different points in Austin, Chicago, and Louisiana, spends most of the time in a peripatetic limbo.  This is travelling music – you can feel the wheels moving. 

It evokes in its alt-rock ambience, a grunge-inflected indie band escaped from a previous decade but with a melody that feels more sinewy classic rock in tone: romantic, country-fried and expansive. The production is deliciously crisp too but allows for space to breathe between the action, and the musicianship is as tight as anything throughout- allowing for that powerful voice to tell its fragmented tales above it all. The song doesn’t hang around though- crafting in its horizon-searching few minutes a hook-laden melody and driving rhythm that doesn’t waste a note. There are even echoes of Pretendersesque New Wave insouciance in it’s a joyous racket. And what a joy it is!

Hyde Park is something different entirely, all brushed kit shuffle, subtly-picked acoustic guitar and sweeping lap steel creating a country folk shimmer that immediately entices. Carolina Chauffe’s voice is a marvel here, releasing a dexterous melodic line that is as pure as it is soulful, enriched further by bass player Bailey Minzenberger effortlessly entwined harmonies. Beautiful, sepia-toned stuff indeed. This too doesn’t overstay its welcome- clocking in at just over a minute and a half long. But no moment is misspent. There’s a refined and startling splendour to its brevity.

These songs do what they need to do and then walk onwards and away. Walk on no doubt towards new landscapes where the sonic delights of that full length album reside. These two songs are reason enough to follow them down that road. They’ll leave you wanting more, in the best possible way.

Written by M.A Welsh (Misophone) 

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