Hey, King!: Be Still (ANTI-) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, October 29th, 2020  

Hey, King!

Be Still


Oct 15, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The music of Hey, King! is, in many respects, a response to tragedy. The duo of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Natalie London and her partner and percussionist Taylor Plecity was formed in the wake of London’s battle with Lyme disease. Shortly after beginning her career, London was bedridden for years unable to walk, talk, read, or write. After a long road to recovery, and armed with a new lease on life and an inventive creative spirit, London returned to music before meeting Plecity and beginning a creative and romantic partnership with her. The duo’s debut EP, Be Still, produced by multi-instrumentalist Ben Harper, translates the pain and joy of this journey into an emotive tribute to the bond between the pair. 

Be Still opens on the tense folk style of “Half Alive,” with meandering, ethereal vocals building behind a tight acoustic groove. At the song’s climax, the melody gains urgency, bolstered by horns, as the lyrics hit a corresponding devotional high. London declares, “I was only half alive before I loved you.” London and Plecity’s relationship color much of the EP including the following track “Don’t Let Me Get Away.” Here the duo deploys some freewheeling, heart-on-your-sleeve indie folk to great effect. The lyrics are equally heartfelt, exposing an instinct to pull away from loved ones and a reluctance to be loved. Meanwhile, blasts of horns once again add further color to the duo’s plaintive balladeering.

The changes continue with “Sing Me to Sleep”—its hushed and spacious sound fits well with the title. London and Plecity trade vocals amid sparse accompaniment and muted percussion. The intimate lull of the song draws the energy down somewhat but it is quickly picked up by the anthemic march of “Lucky.” With this track, the duo moves away from indie folk into soaring, symphonic territory, akin to Arcade Fire. The boisterous dramatics of the band’s eight-piece orchestral live show are on full display here, as well as the duo’s carpe diem spirit. The vocals breathe life into the lyrics as they reflect on having made it through so much pain and what they would tell their younger selves singing, “Let me go, let me go back and tell me/I’ll survive and say someday you will find me.” 

The highlight of the EP, however, comes with the closing track, an excellent cover of The Animals’ “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.” It initially comes across as a very faithful cover but quickly gains in intensity and dramatics. The galloping instrumental outro puts an especially fresh spin on the classic tune. The cherry on top for the track is Eric Burdon reprising his vocals from the original with an added gravelly punch. The song itself also holds special meaning for London. Her mother sang it to her each night before bed and it became an anthem and rallying cry for the pair. As London notes, “This song is so layered and so inspirational that the hope for a better life applies to this world as well as whatever world lies after death.” 

Altogether, Be Still stands as an exciting introduction to the music of Hey, King! With a forthcoming debut LP expected in 2021, the duo is sure to continue to deliver equally heartfelt indie rock on a full-length record. As the first taste of the duo’s talents though, Be Still is an excellent picture of London and Plecity’s ability to turn tragedy into an exuberant celebration of life and love. (www.heykingofficial.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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