Christopher Green’s “Closer” is a really creative, exciting take on vintage folk rock.
The track wears its influences proudly – The Band’s rich folk harmonies, some Bruce Springsteen confidence in the surefooted groove, and, most clearly of all, a strong dose of Wilco in all the creative, intricate textures. Yet it brings both a unique perspective and a really high level of execution to these familiar sounds. The instrumental performances are excellent – tight, emotive drum licks, sweet mellotron phrases, catchy lead guitar. The song was born out of Green and his friends jamming a day away at Moon Music Studios, and you can hear some group jam sensibilities in the song’s final mix. There is an infectious joy, a really charismatic playfulness in the bass and guitars, and the parts bob along with each other in a lovely, friendly pocket. That’s not to say the song sounds like some kind of loose live performance. On the contrary, it’s tight, and really well structured.
The song opens in strange, spacy rides and keys, like some of the psychedelic experimentation of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Out of this space a guitar groove slowly emerges, and just before the listener can lose themselves in the odd world of the song, it all falls into bouncy, groovy bass, and chunky acoustic guitar chords. It’s undeniably head bobbing dad rock, so when we switch unexpectedly into an incredibly tender chorus of mellotron and soft vocal harmonies, provided by Green’s wife Hanna Tollenaar, it’s almost breathtakingly sweet. Right back out, we’re in distorted guitar leads, jamming out like a college co-op dance party. You’d think all these remarkable switches would leave the track disjointed, but they don’t. Instead, they give the song a really dramatic emotional arc, and an incredibly exciting energy.
A lot of credit goes to the song’s mixing and mastering, courtesy of Wessel Olthelen. I’m especially impressed by the bass tone. It’s got a warm, muted thumpiness that absolutely screams 70s folk-rock, but it brings a modern thickness to the sound that really fills out the bottom of the track. Much credit is owed to Green’s writing chops as well. He paints the track’s love story in beautiful, dreamlike vignettes – “there’s a whole in my heart where you fell through and it tore me apart… There’s a light in my eyes when I’m closer you’re gonna read all my lies.” The writing style reminds me a bit of Isaac Brock – stories told in simple, thoughtful pictures, and honest, heartfelt desires. “There’s a book on a shelf, when you’re sleeping I’m gonna read to myself… Hold me closer to your heart.”