Calm Before The “Hurricane:” Landon Elliott Debuts Lead Single From Domino
Fresh off opening for The Wallflowers at the National, Richmond singer-songwriter Landon Elliott has released a new track entitled “Hurricane.” It’s the lead single from his eagerly anticipated LP Domino, which is due out on American Paradox Records this November.
From its opening moments, “Hurricane” shimmers with bittersweet nostalgia via echoing vocals, processed guitar tones, blanketing synths, and lyrics in which the past haunts the present: “Cut through the smoke like we cut through the dream / Backdraft memories, burnt out scenes.”
While retrospective in that sense, the song finds Elliott driving into new sonic territory, building outward from the soulful Americana to which he’s applied his powerful vocal gift in the past. In a recent phone interview, Elliott confirmed that variety is a defining characteristic of Domino. “There’s stuff in there that’s very bluesy. There’s stuff that’s very pop. There’s stuff that’s very singer-songwriter and folk. It’s calling on a lot of different eras, genres, and sounds, while still being true to who I am.”
In this case, Elliott set out to write a love song that felt especially real, one that reflected how the waters of true emotional depth can — and must — be stormy at times. “I wanted to write a love song, and not in the traditional sense.”
Listen to “Hurricane” below, followed by our conversation with Elliott on how it was recorded, how you build a “cowbell chorus,” and how lyrical themes impacted the song’s overall sound.
How did you decide on “Hurricane” as the lead single?
That was the first song that we tackled when we actually started recording the album. It had such a different sound than what I’m typically known for. I definitely sit within that Americana, alt-country kind of genre, and this sound has so much synthesizer, electronic drums — really sits within that 1980s-era aesthetic. We [thought] “Man, this would be such a statement…” It just felt right. We had talked about other ones coming out first, [but] this is a special song.
What are some of the tools you used to get that great throwback sound?
It’s funny. I think I had always heard it being a super chorus-pedal-driven song — the guitar having that wobble that happens with the chorus pedal. And then [on] a lot of the lead line synth stuff, we used a mellotron — just a really beautiful, smooth synth sound. We did so much weird shit on this song. We took this really interesting drum loop and we tuned it, and then had the frequencies boosted in certain regions, and then passed back and forth, so it creates this really interesting movement behind the entire track. When we first started doing stuff with that, [we thought] “This is the sound of the song. This is the vibe.”
We always joke that there’s a cowbell choir in that song, too. There are three different cowbells being hit at the same time, and then being reverbed out. You hear it after the first chorus. There’s a break and you hear this big, ominous noise and it’s actually three cowbells being hit at the same time reverbed out. We just started getting really experimental with it. When we started experimenting with these kind of sounds, stuff I hadn’t really worked with before, it cast the vision for the rest of the album.
Who played the amazing guitar solo?
That’s Scott Lane… We listened to a ton of different guitar solos, different guitarists and how they approached doing solos [asking] “What vibe do we want in this little section? What if we made it a little more like [David] Gilmour? What if we did kind of a Prince vibe? What if we got Bruce Hornsby & the Range’s guitarist’s aesthetic in there too?” We definitely went era-deep on getting that solo to be right on the money.
Is the prominence of the past in the song’s lyrics part of why the sound took shape that way?
There’s a very haunting feeling to the song, and there’s a resolve to it as well. The song is about how difficult relationships are. Everybody writes these love songs, and [you think] “Oh my God, it’s so easy.” That’s bullshit. Loving someone and feeling fully loved by someone takes really hard work. It takes dealing with trauma in your past, bad histories, bad relationships, personalities. You’re dealing with so much upheaval. To really see someone and love them fully, you have to go through the hard stuff. You have to dig until the ghosts that are haunting you — the stuff that’s still lingering in your life and your relationship — you have to exorcise those ghosts in order to move forward…
But then there’s this resolve… Love is like this. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean that I can run from it. Love is difficult, it feels like a hurricane, it makes everything scary, but once you actually open yourself up and allow those things to flow out, we can say “I love you. Even when you’re at your worst, I still care about you.”
“Hurricane” is available to stream now on all platforms, which you can quickly access by clicking here.
Richmond can catch Landon Elliott in concert next on Friday, September 27th at The Broadberry as part of the 5th Annual Shack Up. For more information, click here.
For more information on future shows and news on his upcoming album Domino, head over to LandonElliott.com.