Love songs — and their partner-in-crime, out-of-love songs — are an imposing pillar of popular music. It’s natural for a young artist to write tracks in this tradition, but how do you put a fresh spin on a historical practice that reaches back centuries? Kevin Garrett‘s trick is to play with perspective.
Below is Garrett’s new song, “Control,” premiered here on The Juice.
“I wanted to blur the lines of singing to someone or singing to yourself,” he tells Billboard. This adds a pleasing layer of ambiguity to “Control.” “Control” follows his raw first single, “Coloring.”
Garrett works with throbs and clicks: hollow-toned bass, a beat programmed with a light crackle, a flicker of guitar. Piano and voice do the heavy lifting. His keyboard playing is natural and spare — it doesn’t stick out until the first chorus, but then it’s economical and poignant, leaving plenty of empty space, never crowding the beat, chiming in at key moments. Garret co-produced the track with Jeremy McDonald.
The singing expertly plays both sides of Garrett’s relationship: the lead vocal lays out one side of the story, while the pleading, mostly-wordless backup swirls gently in opposition. “Our pieces lingering in my head,” he sings, “Like rotten leaves you’re choking me with the stench.” Later, he begs his lover (or his own brain) to let him go: “Say you don’t believe in me/ Just so I can finally leave.”
You can buy “Control” here, and catch Garrett on tour in support of James Vincent McMorrow later this month. Check out the tour dates below:
Feb 23, Knox United Church – Calgary, AB
Feb 24, Winspear Centre – Edmonton, AB
Feb 26, Vogue Theatre – Vancouver, BC
Feb 27, Alix Goolden Hall – Victoria, BC
Mar 1, Noise Pop Festival, Swedish American Hall – San Francisco