Songs who’s constituent chords can be counted on one hand are often joked about in musicians’ circles, the assumption being that simplicity of harmonic structure can be equated with ease of construction. However, personal experience dictates to me that songs with very few chords are actually extremely difficult to write – the constraints of such a tightly bound structure leaves the artist nowhere to hide – the melody and lyric and performance must be truly beautiful, otherwise the song will fail.
‘Forget Forgive’ by emerging artist Someone (a.k.a Tessa Rose Jackson) clocks in at the four chord mark, with the vast majority of the song utilising only two chords. ‘Forget Forgive’ is a highly intimate song however, and the bare-bones instrumentation and structure seem only to reinforce the proximity that it evokes. Lyrically the song deals with the process of confronting insecurities, possibly related to unpleasant memories and making one’s peace with demons. It’s not clear if there’s a direct narrative structure – meaning plays second fiddle to fragmented imagery here, but the poetry is certainly beautiful in a glacial fashion. Doorbells echoing in empty halls, cold spells and bright morning sun seem to evoke a curiously brittle depression, yet on closer inspection, darkness is revealed to be merely shadow. Perhaps the titular refrain is being presented as the light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel?
The song’s strongest musical points are the brief intermission at where the listener is treated to some pretty new chords and the introduction of a second voice, singing perfect fifth harmony under a delicately exposed melody, and the beautiful mellotron coda that supports the two voices singing the chorus in round. It’s such a lovely moment that I can’t help but feel a little cheated that we didn’t get more of it in the earlier sections of the song – however I suspect that it’s precisely the restraint up until this point that makes it so powerful in the first place.
The song is not flawless; in particular, the mastering is absurdly loud even by today’s warped standard. I found myself unable to listen to the track on any setting higher than 4/16 volume bars on my Mac, whereas a typical setting would be 6/16. The extent of the compression robs the track of its’ natural dynamics, which I feel could have enhanced the power of the performance even more. I also wonder if further subtle instrumentation could have been used in the earlier portion of the song to add interest, without necessarily destroying the intimacy created by the sparseness of the orchestration. Nevertheless, ‘Forget Forgive’ is a beautiful track and bears repeat listening.
The new single ‘Forget Forgive’ is out now via Monocle – purchase on iTunes here.
Photo Credit: Bibian Bingen