Hailing from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Kevin Zarnett is a songwriter who has got recognition with his guitar playing, warm vocals and exceptional songwriting. He has played with many different artists and contributed to a number of albums including The Mad Mile by Kirsten Jones.
Today we will be focusing on his recent single entitled “Hey Elisa!”. On his Bandcamp page he explains “The song ‘Hey Elisa” started as a conversation with a friend who was struggling, weighed down by their current circumstance, and unable to see any escape. I asked, if she could do anything, what would she do? I was thinking vocationally, but her response was, ‘I would like to be a bird. Be able to fly.’ And that’s where the song came from.”
The song starts with a brief swell and leads to a full arrangement. We are greeted with impressive guitar picking, a 4/4 beat and a bass line that creates more energy to the groove.There’s also some sparse piano and an additional guitar. The song has a good amount of instrumentation but there’s also a lot of space in the song for the vocals to breathe.
Emotionally, the song pulled me in different ways. The song has some low hum melancholy but also a little bit of gratitude, introspection and nostalgia. It’s a song about salvation to my ears and quite literally escaping the city to find solace elsewhere. The vocals are delivered in a comfortable range but there is some variation here. Zarnett occasionally hits some higher notes which sound good.
As the song progresses we are introduced to more elements. There are windy pads and what sounds like an arpeggiated synth that are introduced around the two-and-a-half-minute mark. The song ends with a robust section combining ghostly guitar notes, synths, drums and more.
To my ears this song is shares company with a band like Wilco. It hits upon similar emotions and also has this organic, Americana quality. This is a great song and it piqued my interest into what else is in his past catalog. Recommended.
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