Stripped-back acoustic music done well can be breathtaking. There have been some exquisite proponents of the craft over the years. James Taylor, Neil Young, Ryan Adams and Justin Townes Earle but to name a few. Nashville-based Bern Kelly adds himself to the mix of artists who are creating thoughtful captivating acoustic folk/rock.
We are thrilled today to be premiering “Open Tab”, a captivating love song about a long-haul relationship. Featuring a beautiful acoustic guitar, with restrained vocals, it’s a masterful exhibition of a stripped-back sonic palette. There’s a heartwarming melancholic feel to the track, with a turn of phrase that draws you in. “Open Tab” is from Bern’s forthcoming album, Garden City, out on 18th November.
We were able to catch up with Bern, who gave us a detailed insight into the track:
“Open Tab” started out with the line, “This is the first time I saw this side of the skyline / It was a weekday but I stayed the night.” Sometimes even your own city can catch you off guard. You’re used to seeing it one way, but then you catch it at a different angle. I had that line on my mind for a while, and it eventually got the story rolling.
Verse by verse, the sentiment is that selflessness in relationships works in multiple ways. You’ve got to maintain your individual self—“years fly by and we’re still together but trying to be free”—while also understanding when to leave things at the door if you want to make the whole thing work and thrive. Finding balance, that can get swept up in the grind. So sometimes you find yourself sitting in the kitchen with a bottle of wine, and you’re laughing together and thinking, “How the hell are we ever actually gonna get where we want to go?”
The “put it on me” chorus also works two ways. First, as in “put this on my tab, I got you covered.” Second, as in “this is my fault and I take the responsibility.” The scales tip to each side, but you just roll on with the idea that it’ll always end up even in the end. If you both approach it the same way, in the end it doesn’t really matter.
Musically, like a lot of songs on this album, I wanted it to pulse. I played a sort of bass line on the guitar to give it some bounce, and the light strumming on the stacked rhythm guitars created the sound of brushes on a snare drum. It’s all just acoustic guitars, but you can still feel the whole thing moving forward down the road, just like the characters in the song.”
Garden City will be released to all major streaming platforms on 18th November 2022, via Underpass Records. Bern is also having some limited-edition white vinyl pressed. This will be available in early 2023. You can find more details on his website HERE
Header image credit: Michael Butcher