It is easy to be confined by the long set structures of the typical folk song. Often, those walls help to craft strong songwriting. Erin Durant knows the rules, but it is her willingness to play with form, her freeness in pushing those boundaries, that make ‘Highway Blue’ an exceptional track.
Durant fits extra syllables into every breath, it provides a flourish to her introspective romantic nature. ‘Highway Blue’ begins with her singing over soft piano, “Confused who I miss most / The light’s flickering / I’m looking at a ghost” before spilling, “The electricity still plays our records / In these dark hours our love is unprotected.” These small patches of flicked ivories should not be able to contain eleven syllables, and they really can’t, but Durant makes them work. This flourish of realist imagery pressed against metaphor and forced out before the drumkit kicks in, shows her willingness to put creativity before long intact structures.
Nonetheless, Durant is able to deliver a timeless chorus, one that fits both theme and structure, while also playing with the assumed discussion of open road travel. “And if I could go back to any day/ I would make sure to take a photograph of you in this space,” she sings. The song centers around a singular space.
As a songwriter, Durant is a gifted metaphorist, even when those metaphors are filled with the old bar room stains familiar in the folk genre. On ‘Highway Blue’, she describes the memory of ‘the’ room now as, “cigarette smoke left as an evening dew.” She then weaves it back into the narrative, “We could paint it over a thousand times, but it would still be the same shade of highway blue.”
Underneath it all is an almost jaunty, old-timey piano and a simple drum set that lend a lightness to the more serious nature of romance relegated to the past tense. “For me, ‘Highway Blue’ looks at the space of what’s left when someone is gone,” explained Durant briefly when discussing the song.
‘Highway Blue’ is set to appear on Durant’s second album, Islands, which is due out June 21st via Keeled Scales.
HURRY – BUY – ERIN DURANT MUSIC