Graceful and brisk, with chime-y guitars and spirited vocals, “Lay Your Lazy Head” is grounded in a simple, beautifully effective melody—so effective, in fact, that its basic motif is employed in both the verse and the chorus. Which is to say that the verses and the chorus sound largely although not exactly the same. This is not as easy to do as it might seem. It involves first of all offering a good amount of subtle variation in and around the basic repeating tune—not only, here, is it presented somewhat differently in the chorus, each iteration in the verse scans slightly differently based on lyrical and vocal discrepancies. This gives the ear something to reach for even as it has absorbed the basic reality of the repetition. The other thing required here, of course, is a strong enough melody to support the concept. To my ears, Hill has it in spades.
The specific power of “Lay Your Lazy Head”‘s basic melody comes from the unexpectedly large harmonic difference a mere half-interval makes to our ears. A clear place to focus on this is in the second visitation of the verse melody, and on the difference there between the notes that Hill lands on for the word “stray” (0:30) and then the word “own” (0:33)—they are just a half-step apart, and yet the underlying shift is from the I chord to the V chord. Which is a bunch of music theory yammering to say that this smallest available step, the half interval, can take you to a whole new harmonic neighborhood. And while I’m sure this has nothing to do with Hill’s intention, I even like how the simple half-step difference kind of reinforces the titular idea of laying down one’s “lazy head,” as there may seem nothing lazier than falling merely a half step down in a melody. Okay, a stretch, but that’s how my mind works.
“Lay Your Lazy Head” is from Hill’s debut EP, entitled Me At All, which you can listen to on her web site. The EP was released in August and was recorded with Jeff Berrall and Sam Hopkins of the band Caveman (themselves featured here back in August 2011). The Dallas-born, Brooklyn-based Hill is on tour this fall with Jane Herships, who has recorded as Spider, and is herself a Fingertips favorite with two previous features, in 2006 and 2009. Both Hill and Herships are both, also, members of the Brooklyn-based band Desert Stars.