I found myself enchanted by Hourstone’s new single “My Sorceress” after a single listen. This spellbinding quasi-ballad builds around an evocative vocal and lyrical piano playing that, despite the song’s overall intensity, nevertheless provides considerable uplift for listeners. It’s the latest in an impressive and ongoing string of singles that have seen Hourstone consolidate his position as one of the most interesting songwriters and performers working today. There’s quite a bit here that listeners can connect with, both lyrically and musically, but there’s a boldness in the design and execution that sets him apart from his peers and contemporaries alike.
You hear it in the song structure first and foremost. Hourstone has built much of his reputation on writing songs with an offbeat take on venerable forms – he zigs when you think he’s going to zag, essentially. If you are invested in traditional choruses and awaiting the same chord changes you’ve heard in countless songs, if you embrace a significant measure of predictability, then perhaps Hourstone’s music isn’t for you.
It isn’t to say, however, that I feel like Hourstone dances on the cutting edge of songcraft. We aren’t in entirely alien territory. “My Sorceress” has a recognizable ebb and flow that gives it an appeal capable of cutting across multiple genre lines while never really belonging to any single style. There are echoes of pop balladry present in the song, art pop that adheres to no formal structure, cinematic or theatrical influences that inflate the relatively simple instrumentation, and yet none of it ever strikes a discordant note.
The song’s video is a virtual mini-movie that deserves its own review. It’s glaringly obvious that Hourstone deemed the visual element complementing the single on equal footing, or close to it, with the song itself and, as a result, we should take them together as a package deal. The video is more traditional than the song, however, as it does rely on key stylistic quirks common to the form such as jump cuts. It’s nonetheless an outstanding work.
Hourstone’s voice is an outstanding element of the song as well. He inhabits much of the lyrics like a haunting presence, never threatening, but nonetheless with a near spectral touch that gets under your skin from the start. The vocal approach isn’t one-dimensional though as he does stretch his voice out at crucial points in the song. These instances give ample evidence of his sharp performing and songwriting instincts as they are invariably well-timed.
His voice meshes so well with the piano playing. I am an enormous fan of how they operate in lockstep throughout the track and the way that the authoritative drumming punctuates each turn in the song. He hasn’t addressed any one element of the song to the exclusion of others and, as such, “My Sorceress” is a well-rounded artistic experience. It’s perhaps his supreme achievement yet and I can’t recommend it enough. He’s really hit it out of the ballpark with this one and it won’t soon wear thin for the majority of listeners.
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