“Hotel Lights” – Amy Cook

And here’s a real new year’s treat—a song as good as anything you’re likely to hear over the coming 12 months. On the one hand, it’s a quiet bit of singer/songwriter fare; on the other hand, oh my, what an exquisite tune. Cook plays an electric guitar here—the old-fashioned kind, with f-holes—not an acoustic one, and its rich, rounded tones lend an immediate depth to the song, and nicely complements her ever-so-slightly-dusky voice.

But it’s sheer songwriting prowess that makes this one shine. Cook, based in Austin, works wonders in particular with asymmetricality. Listen, first of all, to the melody line at the beginning of the verse (0:12), and how those three words (“All the girls”) are set apart, separated by a measure and a half from the rest of the line, which then streams out without a break through the lyric’s end. There’s great power in that quiet lack of regularity, and Cook uses it again, in a different way, at the opposite end of the structure. After the first two lines of the chorus, in which her words emerge in two-syllable clusters at the beginning of each measure, she proceeds to extend the second line four extra measures, partially mirroring the two-syllable clustering but now filling in the empty spaces with an uneven but luscious melody. Much more delightful to listen to than to read about.

“Hotel Lights” is from Cook’s album Let The Light In, produced by Alejandro Escovedo and slated for an early March release. This appears to be her third album but details are sketchy. Thanks to Bruce at Some Velvet Blog for the head’s up.




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