“Take a walk / Around the block / Down the hill / And through the park” sings Liz Kennedy in the opening verses of her latest single, the patient and chilling “Hike Up Your Socks,” with a graceful groove shadowing her every utterance. Kennedy’s voice is dripping with a vulnerability that can be attributed to her personal connection with the subject at hand; the celebration of both her and her late husband’s home, Telegraph Hill in San Francisco’s North Beach. The melodies are shapely and the sway all too tempting for us to dismiss, but the magic is only getting started as we let these harmonies lead us through the city.
There are a number of instances where, as sharp as they are, the lyrics aren’t the most expressive element to behold in “Hike Up Your Socks.” The pendulousness of the percussion, the angst of the relationship between the strings and the piano, the bassline’s casual complexities – they’re each telling us a part of the underlying story here, and many times, creating a more descriptive tone for us to understand in their melodies than any that the verses could have mustered for us on their own. For what 2019 has produced thus far, this is multidimensional songwriting at its best.
The master mix doesn’t have much, if any, real muscle to write home about, but that works to the song’s advantage a lot more than you would think. The black and white simplicity of the mix’s construction leaves no room for the weightiness of bells and whistles to come between us and the perfectly poised crooning that Kennedy is dishing out, and even if it isn’t as gargantuan a sound as what some people might be going for in pop right now, it’s a decidedly more streamlined version of a surreal songwriting style that is certainly all the rage this summer.
When we isolate the bassline away from the other components in the instrumental part of “Hike Up Your Socks,” it’s clearly the most soulful element in the whole single, save for Kennedy’s heartfelt and harmonious conveyance of the lyrics, of course. It’s almost a bit more pronounced in the music video for the song than it is in the stock single, but to quite honest, it’s hard for me to determine the specific differences between the two mixes employed here. The video’s imagery is quite entrancing, which makes it all the more difficult to tune into the more intricate parts of this composition’s meticulous design when watching it.
“Hike Up Your Socks” is another hot cut from Liz Kennedy, who has been steadily gaining momentum over the last few years and arguably issues her most self-aware and experimental look so far in this latest recording. Fans of folk, pop, adult contemporary and acoustic indie music would be wise to give this track and its video a close analysis this summer, if for no other reason than to see for themselves what critics are raving about this season. Kennedy continues to grow and prove herself a worthwhile songwriter in the San Francisco scene here, which, as anyone who knows music as well as I do will tell you, is no easy feat to accomplish.