Desert Blonde is the vehicle for the song-writing of Zach Hinkle, who has for the last few years been turning his hand to a vast array of genres and styles. His back catalogue contains everything from midwest-emo to fuzzy-punk, and ’90s influenced indie. His wandering musical ear seems to have recently settled on something more simple, evident in his upcoming EP, Live Slow Die Old, which we’re premiering here today.
Live Slow Die Old is a record that’s perfectly honest, a restrained reflection on the gentle passing of time. It is a record not of hyperbole, instead it serves as a celebration of those perfect moments of peace in which we can stop the world for a second and catch our breath. The record was written last year, and recording began with engineer Tommy Cormier at Greenpoint Recording Collective last winter, before being completed post-lockdown via emails and Google Docs, perhaps reining in Zach’s temptation for unnecessary embellishment.
The result is a record that feels like it doesn’t waste a note, thoughtful instrumental arrangements adding a distinct alt-country flare. That’s not to say this isn’t an ambitious record, Zach’s voice and guitar are accompanied by an array of instruments; accordion, mandolin, piano, percussion and some luxurious harmonies courtesy of both Zach and Tommy’s wife, Kendra Kovarik.
It’s perhaps lyrically that Live Slow Die Old shines brightest, Zach’s portraits are both witty and sincere, distinct Southern State sketches perfect for watching life roll on by. Writers Block Blues is his tribute to inaction, “the beer doesn’t help, but I can’t say it hurts, hey here, here’s a round it’s on me, I’m already writing a song about drinking, how cliché, oh golly, oh gee”. In many ways the song pokes fun at the writers, questioning whether it’s all that important to even write songs in the first place, “a song’s just a song, and not too much else, it’s words and chords and things”, yet he knows he’s as guilty as any other, “I gotta admit, I love a good tune, so finish that song and sing”.
Elsewhere on the record, the fantastic, It Ain’t Bad (To Be Alone) is the sort of loner-anthem, Mr E and Eels have been sharing with the world for years. To an easy, walking-guitar line, and mandolin-twang, Zach reflects on his own insular tendencies, “when I’m surrounded by people, I get cold as a stone, that’s why it ain’t bad to be alone”. It’s not a song that wallows in loneliness, it embraces it, celebrating the freedom to be alone with your own thoughts, and maybe some cannabis if that’s your bag.
There’s a timeless quality to Live Slow Die Old, tracks like the downbeat sway of Stay For Good or the lonesome booze-hound tale of Four Beers Deep, follow a lineage from Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams, through to Willy Mason and Jeffrey Lewis. These are songs that are brand new, yet feel like they could have existed for decades.
Live Slow Die Old might be a sign of where Desert Blonde’s music is headed, or another brief stop on his journey through the genres, either way it’s a gorgeous place to lay your head, relax and, at least for a little while, let the world slow down to your own, perfectly sedate pace.
Live Slow Die Old is out October 23rd. Click HERE for more information on Desert Blonde.