Song of the Day: Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift - Life Is Change

Song of the Day
12/07/2016
Gerrit Feenstra
photo by Melissa Wax

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, comes from Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift. "Life Is Change" is the B-side to their single "Love Is A Drag", released this year on the duo's own Tiny Ghost Records.

Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift - Life Is Change (MP3)As the story goes, Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift met at an Emmylou Harris concert in 2013. The meeting was quickly followed by a mutual respect, for reasons that are easy to understand. Hitchcock's history as an English college rock god and songwriter extraordinaire need no introduction. Meanwhile, Swift is a Nashville songwriter living in Sydney, Australia, splitting time between the two cultures to find new inspiration for Americana somewhere in the middle. The two are well-traveled and constantly reconsidering the world around them. Thus, the songs they have written together over the past two years show a match made in heaven. With every trickling release (a 7" Record Store Day release last year on Yep Roc, followed the Tiny Ghost 7" this year), we are hungry for more.

"Life Is Change" is pure, simplistic bliss. There's a reason Swift and Hitchcock are taking their time with these 7" releases. If you took all the songwriting prowess of these two and boiled it down to the purest refinement, you'd get a handful of songs like this one. The track was recorded by Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub. Full of divine melancholy, Hitchcock and Swift both dish about the strangeness of life and love in all the ebb and flow of the tides. The melody and the interplay both build to a point without ever feeling forced upon you, but the conviction herein never fades. More even than "Love Is A Drag", "Life Is Change" emphasizes the raw power of these two voices and songwriters together. While Hitchcock's signature wispiness walks forward over the guitar-line, Swift's harmony adds a bit of Nashville bluegrass to the mix, without relying on any specific tropes. This is just damn fine songwriting, as good as it gets, yet as sparse and fleeting as life finds it. Hitchcock and Swift both capture the effervescent balance between dedication and hesitation that we all too often find ourselves in. This is a song for our time if there ever was one.

Grab "Life Is Change" above and make sure to cop one of these "Love Is A Drag"/"Life Is Change" 7" records before they disappear. Robyn and Emma will both tour Australia through the end of the year, but you're fortunate that we happen to have live video of them performing together in KEXP's public gathering space. Watch the video for the A-side, "Love Is A Drag", here:

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