Friday, February 03, 2023

Herds go back to the roots of classic rock in stripped-down new single

Music is, beyond doubt, an excellent outlet for nostalgia. It is far from rare to bump into a track, or even a whole record, that looks back on the past glories of whatever genre it’s dabbling in, searching for a beloved sound which is still capable of speaking to a contemporary audience. 

In recent years alone we’ve had revivals of New Wave, synth-pop, industrial rock, and more. Rarely, however, is one confronted with something that seems so authentic, philological even, as what Nottingham’s Herds have presented their audience with in their latest single, ‘Station of the Cross’.

 Thematically, in terms of mood, and musically most of all, this is a track that reaches all the way back to the very roots of classic rock, at a point where the soul and blues influence was still more than clearly discernible. It does so to such an extent that if you heard it absent-mindedly over the radio, you’d be tempted to take it for an old classic. It is not just the structure – mostly ballad, but with a faster pace – or the way in which vocals and lyrics alike summon an echo of early Bob Dylan, nor even the way in which the jangling guitars evoke the thought of a relaxed jam session in the back of a pub somewhere; there is an attention to detail, in the recovery of this classic mood, that makes the song, aside from all else, almost a love letter to that historical era of music.

That is not to say that ‘Station of the Cross’ is dated. If anything, it sets out, and confidently manage, to prove that this type of sound, and this type of structure, is far from obsolete, that it can still effectively channel feeling and speak just as loudly to a contemporary audience. Its simple line of melody is the product of confidence, of an awareness of the fact that there is no need to overcomplicate a good ballad when the flow of it is right. 

The production, equally stripped-back, has a much welcome awareness of the necessity to let the track speak for itself. The lyrics are carefully crafted; the vocals, distinctive enough in both timbre and style, read soulful and sincere. It is not the kind of song that would send an audience into a moshing frenzy, but it is a perfect fit for an acoustic session, and that is in many ways a much harder goal to achieve. Choosing a track like this implies not being able to hide behind any kind of theatrics: all you have is what the song has to say for itself, and this single has plenty to say.

Station of the Cross’ is not simply a treat for those of us who find themselves in the grip of nostalgia. Younger listeners, or those less familiar with the early tunes of classic rock, will find it equally refreshing, even if they might miss an echo of Cream or The Kinks among its chords. Lovers of folk and country music, equally, might be pleasantly surprised to find clear influences from these genres blend with the rock-blues of track in the most natural of fashions. While it may well inspire a walk down memory lane, this is a song with a voice of its own, plenty of soul, and a rightful place in the musical landscape of 2023 – where the need for something like this has at times been sorely felt.


Chiara Strazzulla

@cstrazzull

Image: Station of the Cross’ Official Single Cover



1 comment:

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