Those are the words I would use to describe my initial reaction to Lane Simkins’s new single “Cycles.” And by initial reaction, I don’t even mean to the whole song; it was in the first few moments, few measures, in which the acoustic guitars picks a simple progression of notes and sets the emphasis on rhythm and tone. His voice slides in with an ease filled with emotion and soft clarity.
I arrived at the pre-chorus already feeling it. Here, a more powerful electric guitar strikes in the background that is then perfectly rivaled by Simkins’s lift in voice.
Maybe it’s the girl
or maybe it’s just God I’m running from.
At the end of first verse and the chorus, the arrival of drums is announced with a slow hit to the bass, then the snare. Alongside this repetition is a beautiful piano that instrumentally transitions from this chorus into a slower verse. This choice of instruments pairs well with his words.
I don’t know if I can keep on
hearing all that I’ve done wrong.
There is an ache to his words and I can feel it, but that doesn’t stop Simkins from achieving the hard-to-find balance between gentleness and passion. He intentionally creates an ebb and flow in this song using the emotive ring of his voice and the influence of well-placed instruments. It works real well.
There is intent all throughout this song. He clearly identifies phases to this song, starting with the pat of the intro, creating a fast, yet steady pace. This song is beautiful from the start and Simkins’s voice makes that apparent.
The chorus builds with his consideration of his stuck-ness. It is pure relatability; God, a lost lover, and the cards life has dealt, have made everyone feel the seemingly inescapable repetition of failure or maybe just the weight of monotony. The recession of the second verse is another phase that makes the listener consider his pain more. Then, Simkins and the audience journey through the beautiful musical finale of sorts. All of the instruments join together to play us out, yet this conclusion is so unfulfilling because everyone – Simkins, you, me – are left wondering how to break out of this cycle.
Maybe it’s this life
of countless times that I have tried to break
Drawn out and drenched in sentiment, the song practically begged me to press play and turn on repeat. I complied.