Despite both artists being Brooklynites, Nico Hedley & Field Guides (real name Benedict Kupstas) each turned in some of the year’s best melancholic country songs with their new split single, “Wordly”/ “The City is a Painting.”
Released as a colored seven-inch (with a few cover variations) by Whatever’s Clever, this single finds the two musicians bringing their own unique tastes to the table, but also a similarly roughened and weary vibe.
Hedley’s track, “Wordly,” is a sparse piece with mournful vocals and sweeping pedal steel work which gives the song a subtly haunting atmosphere. This spectral quality is elaborated further by the percussion, which begins to drift into a clattering free jazz-like style towards the middle of the track. This is the kind of music you’d expect to hear in a honky-tonk in a ghost town in the middle of the night.
Field Guides’ “The City is a Painting,” which also features Hedley on drums, pedal steel and bass, is a catchy Will Oldham-esque tune that fills you with a sense of nostalgia for something you didn’t even experience. This song is more of a rocker than the flip side, complete with a scorching guitar solo that almost brings to mind Marc Bolan. In fact, despite the country roots, it’s hard not to be reminded a little of T. Rex’s “Ballrooms of Mars.” An unexpected combination of sounds for sure, but it works so well.
If the strength of these two tracks is anything to go by, the upcoming records by Field Guides and Hedly that are due to come out later this year are going to be astounding. While you wait for those to make their appearance, you can still get copies of this single from Bandcamp right now.