San Fermin and this website go back a long way, the band’s self-titled debut album was in my first ever album of the year list back in 2013. At that point, Brooklyn-based band leader Ellis Ludwig-Leone, and his rotating cast of musicians were riding high drawing widespread critical acclaim and plenty of airplay along the way. As with any collective, various members have pursued other projects since, although San Fermin have remained productive releasing a further three albums, before last year’s In This House EP, which featured collaborations with the likes of Nico Muhly, Thao Nguyen and Wye Oak. With a new EP, Your Ghost, due out in September via the Better Company Records that Ellis runs with bandmate Allen Tate, today the band are premiering a brand new single, Someone You Call Baby.
Featuring the vocals of Claire Wellin, Someone You Call Baby is a straight-talking reflection on the distance that comes between a friendship over time, Claire detailing a series of small desertions that culminate to an aching whole, “your friends moved to LA, I knew you’d never stay and you became the made-for-TV version of yourself“. Both lyrically and musically the track seems to build throughout, until it suddenly breaks, a river of emotion pouring over the bows as she repeats the refrain, “when you call him baby, I just can’t explain, you used to call me baby, never be the same“, over a swell of guitars, bringing to mind the likes of The New Pornographers or Stars.
Discussing the track, Ellis credits a new working technique for bringing out a different side of his songwriting, “since Allen took over producing, my writing process has really changed. I wrote this one at the piano and it came out almost like a ballad, which I never usually write“. The track was originally a series of distinct sections before they came together on the finished product with its relaxed opening half swelling to its cathartic conclusion, even if it took a lot of work, Ellis recalling, “Allen and I argued about this one a lot, but often those end up being the best songs“. Well worth an argument or two I’d say, Someone You Call Baby is a thrilling return for San Fermin, and one that’s a delight, but no surprise to anyone who’s followed the career of one of his generation’s most intriguing songwriters.