Imagine slow dancing on the beach as the sun sets, and it’s the end of a wonderful summer vacation; there’s a slight chill in the air, the waves are frothing gently on the shore, you’re feeling a bit melancholy but otherwise content…
This is essentially the vibe you get from Rose Hotel’s song “Drive Alone.” Straight away, the chill, blues-y, nostalgic sounds put you in a trance. You begin to sway back and forth as the song takes you away to a moment that was memorable in both a sweet and bitter way.
“Drive Alone” is the first release of 2020 from Rose Hotel, which, according to their Spotify About summary, is described as a “brief calm” and “a small refuge from the heaviness of the current times.” It’s evident that the struggles of the past year have had an influence on the kind of feeling that the group aims to inspire in the listener: a moment to breathe amidst the chaos.
The classic sounds of an acoustic guitar and drums, with some background notes from an electric guitar, immediately set the tone with a nice and gentle rhythm that almost gives the song a kind of pop folk sound, if it need be classified into something. Taking notice of Rose Hotel’s other songs, it’s clear this is just the kind of style they’re going for, that chill, indie folk pop vibe, some with a faster rhythm like “10 K,” some with a grittier, urgent, more cinematic feel like “Constant.” Either way, it’s the way to go when you’re feeling that melancholic but relaxed mood.
The vocals fit the style so perfectly. A gorgeously delicate, effortless, breathy female voice puts the listener in a kind of trance, kind of like Daughter, or Ruelle, or Fleurie. Jordan Reynolds (the primary vocalist) is like the fourth sister to those three. She possesses a fragility and vulnerability to her voice, yet a beautiful maturity, that slowly reels you in nice and easy.
The lyrics ponder on fading love and the fine line of being independent but feeling lonely.
From Bowling Green to Atlanta to find more
Of that freedom I’ve been searching for
The singer speaks of a freedom that can mean a number of things, but there’s one outstanding question: is it freedom to do something, or freedom from something?
We get a glimpse into what it could possibly mean in the next verse:
I wish I hadn’t met you at the time I did
A bit too young and reckless, now I’m too proud to admit
That I stay still somewhat blind, that I’m trying to find someone like you.
There’s a love that’s been betrayed, which has clearly hurt this person, but despite that, their loneliness blinds them, and they still seek out companionship in the wrong places. Is it possible that, as they run from something, they’re running to something? It almost feels like this drive is a representation of denial and apprehension, while also a representation of liberation.
Honestly, what vibe can describe 2020 better? I don’t know about you, but I think I found my artist to binge for the rest of the year.