Words by Kate Lockyer – Kate Lockyer Music
English musician Holly Humberstone released her stunning debut EP, ‘Falling Asleep at the Wheel’ in August. 20-year-old Holly made a splash with the release of her first single, Deep End, earlier this year. Since then, she has released a string of popular singles that have charted over 23 millions streams so far. Her soft, ambient pop has been influenced by the acoustic music she listened to as a young girl, lending her sound a warmth and sincerity.
Deep End is the first track on the EP. We are plunged right into the depth of Holly’s emotions in this song, written for her sister. It is heartfelt and gentle song, and as her first single, a candid introduction to her music. Mellow electric guitar washes over us as the lyrics start –“Throw me in the deep end / I’m ready now to swim / The air in my lungs may not last very long / But I’m in”. Holly cradles the tender lyrics in the silky tones of her voice.
The agility of Holly’s songwriting is showcased in this EP, as she moves from intimate ballads to more upbeat tracks full of heart. Her title track, Falling Asleep at the Wheel, is imbued with youthful earnestness. Syncopated keyboard gives the song momentum from the start, and an electronic beat fills it with life. She sings, “I’m falling, falling asleep at the wheel / Guess I forgot how to feel / Just for a second you’re talking / But I’m just pretending you have my attention”. In Falling Asleep at the Wheel, you can feel the rawness of a relationship derailing.
- Deep End
- Falling Asleep at the Wheel
- Drop Dead
Overkill is one of those groovy tracks that most pop artists have in their repertoire, and yet at the same time, Holly has created a uniquesound. Synth mixed with percussion and guitar evokes the grungy atmosphere of a backyard party, while the lyrics speak with an honesty that comes of pent-up emotion. “My heart keeps racing, racing still / I’m just over being overkill”. My favourite line is vivid, a late-night conversation – “We’re running out of moonlight / Just trying to use the time right”.
Drop Dead, the next track,has attitude. Even as she is standing up and fighting against this toxic person, this toxic habit, she is admitting her weakness – “One look and I drop dead”. Murky keyboard chords and breathy vocals add to the tone of the song.
Vanilla is another upbeat showstopper from Holly. The song starts off with a lively beat, and Holly’s voice – “I need a cure for all this apathy / I’m spending way too long on WebMD”. Vanilla is the ultimate tale of 21st century love gone wrong, comfortable but passionless. “We kept it lukewarm, oh so vanilla / That’s just what we do”, she sings, accompanied by crackling guitar.
My favourite song on the EP is the last – Livewire. It’s a song about letting go, moving on. At the same time, Holly looks back with affection of what they had. “Making a mess ain’t as fun as it used to be / Life can’t always be one giant firework display / Ooh, are you still a livewire?” Holly’s gorgeous vocal tone is crystalline. It’s clear and glittering, and in this track, it shines. By the end, her layered vocals sound just like the sizzle of a livewire.
‘Falling Asleep at the Wheel’ has to be one of the best EPs from a debut pop artist this year.In ‘Falling Asleep at the Wheel’, Holly Humberstone has shown us the depth of her songwriting and the vast scale of her talent. She has found her style – polished, clear tracks that nevertheless carry an intensity of emotion.
Stream/Purchase ‘Falling Asleep at the Wheel’ HERE!
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With thanks to Bossy Music