Queens-based indie folk-rocker Thin Lear has shared the new track “A Simple Phrase,” a sweeping orchestral ballad featuring a lush string arrangement, upright bass, and sparse piano.
The track is taken from Thin Lear’s forthcoming debut record Wooden Cave, due for release on July 24th. A heartbreaking message, the song recalls the melodicism of Harry Nilsson and the songcraft of Sharon Van Etten – take a listen below…
Thin Lear, AKA Matt Longo, notes that the melody and lyric came right out of a dream, an unconscious pouring of emotion into song. “I woke up with the whole thing one day, ideas for arrangement and all. I wish every tune arrived as organically,” Longo says. “Before I slept, I was thinking a lot about how insecurity operates, how it haunts, and the way it ebbs and flows. And then that chorus was just ringing in my ears throughout the next morning: ‘Forget about the things you need to happen/You’re not really here/You met your end/Ages ago.'”
As his favorite songs deliver terrifying messages in gorgeous packages, Longo enveloped the melody in sweet strings, disarming the listener. “I do feel that it’s redemptive for the song’s subject in the end though,” he says. “I don’t think the song wallows in misery, in light of the final verse; it works through it with great difficulty, which is really the only way to do it, right?”
The dream-like feel was a true reference point for the instrumentation and production. Recorded first with a core backing band, the arrangement left ample space for overdubs from a string quartet. “That was such a satisfying day of recording. Hearing the playback of the strings layered on the track was like watching milk go into coffee.”
The overarching theme of Wooden Cave is one of isolation and self-exploration. Longo studied 1920’s occultist Netta Fornario and her mysterious story, her life on a tiny island off of Scotland. He found himself dreaming of her on a consistent basis, often waking with a fleeting image of the woman. Though they’ve experienced very different lives, Longo felt an immediate empathy for her, and recognized her story as that of an artist.
Wooden Cave was recorded in various studios across the city with a collective of musicians. Much like the vastly cultured city of NY, Thin Lear pulls his inspiration from an eclectic history of influence that ranges from Leonard Cohen, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, to Shuggie Otis, Randy Newman and Sam Cooke, amongst a handful of others.