The Evil Label Boss has commanded, and so i obey. Here’s my third nerdy musician write up for a Bad Elephant track.
Home Sweet Home by We Are Kin is a very nice song, shockingly short for something on a ‘prog’ label as it clocks in at the frankly silly time of 3 minutes twenty seven seconds.
Thematically, I don’t think it’s a million miles away from the 13 minute prog monster that I started this blog series with, The Willows by the Gift. Both of them have at their heart a yearning for home, simplicity and freedom, and both seem to associate a major key sweetness with that feeling.
Mike Morton was singing about laying down underneath the willows, whereas here Hannah Cotterill is singing about images of home, villages, community, cities hard at work.
This is your 3 minute song form so of course it doesn’t have the extended instrumental contrasts the Willows had. Nevertheless there’s a nice contrast here. And whereas in a pop song you might expect the main vocal pay off to happen early and often, here you still have to wait to hear it. This is a song you listen to all the way through, not a ten-seconds-is-enough flash in the pan pop song.
So what’s going on?
We start with the main chord sequence in D Mixolydian, Under some arpeggios a bassline moves from D to B to C then F# to G and back to D. It’s in 4/4 but the progression lasts 3 bars with lots of the movement off the beat. What’s the effect of that? It makes us feel pleasantly off-kilter, and slightly dreamy. Throughout this song the modal harmony and the fact that the bass is often melodic and not just playing root notes means we often get a feeling that the harmony isn’t quite resolved, adding to the dreamy quality. There are light keys in this first verse, guitar arpeggios and drums.
Verse 2 and 3
A couple of straighter bars of E minor and C and then we get verse 2, adding bass and piano marking out the same bassline. E minor and C again and then we get an instrumental refrain that’s a little bit more rocky and in D minor, giving us a bit of harmonic contrast. Verse 3 repeats material from verse 2 but with a some vocal harmonies and few little extra textural gestures.
Home Sweet Home!
We then get the D minor refrain which gives way to trebley chugging guitar and some vocal ‘ah’s and some nice piano melodic lines. The bass joins in with a section that builds up in 3/4 under the line ‘seek and you shall find, the key to free your mind’ before we repeat the opening chords, much louder and with the drums spelling out the chord changes rather than playing a beat for the pay-off line of ‘home sweet home, home sweet home’.
I really like the mood here, and its interesting that so far in all three of these songs the instrumentalists aren’t going for the virtuoso look-at-me solos. What’s up with all the understatement and tasteful accompaniments guys? I thought Bad Elephant was a prog label!