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Goodbye Road is a seamless collaboration of Johnnyswim and Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

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Amidst the unfamiliar songs that fill my Release Radar playlist on Spotify, a song plays that suddenly strikes a chord with me. Frozen in my seat, I’m struck dumb by the fact that, yes, two of my favorite artists made a collaboration, and yes, I’m currently listening to the heaven that is their new EP. The welcome warmth of their voices blends in unison, filling my heart with an indescribable amount of love for their music and making me the biggest fangirl, which is a title I never classify myself under in ordinary circumstances.

In their own ways, artists Johnnyswim and Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors bring a sense of home and the feeling of being loved into their music, two consistent themes in their songs. When I think of the two groups, I picture the usual lull of guitar partnered with neutral and mellow lyrics; usually, that’s exactly what music both play. Because of my predisposed image of them, that’s probably why their latest EP came as a bit of a shock to me.

The first song of their collaborated EP challenged their norm and replaced it with more of a political atmosphere which was only thinly veined by joyous acoustics overlying it. Inspired to react to the racial attacks in Charlottesville, singers Abner Ramirez, Amanda Sudano, and Drew Holcomb wrote the song “Ring the Bells.” Well seasoned with lyrics like Bang the drums! / This means war / But not the kind you’re waiting for / We say mercy won’t be rationed here / That’s what we’re fighting for, the song takes on a tone of protest at the injustice in Virginia. As the Rolling Stones so succinctly put it, “[Ring the Bells] is a bright song for darker times.”

Aside from the clear political statement behind their lyrics, the collective vocals from the trio were flawlessly moving together with the instrumentals that highlighted them perfectly. The song clearly played into each of the singers’ strengths, while simultaneously appealing to their audiences with the upbeat tune.

Once the dust settled after “Ring the Bells,” the rest of the EP is fairly mellow. Other than their first song, the other one that stuck out on the album was “Goodbye Road.” The song mainly features their voices, and they are essentially only accompanied by a simple beat and a gentle hum. With gospel roots and a steady foundation to build on, it begins with Ramirez’s distinctly rich voice carrying above the hum of the background choir. At the addition of a slow beat and a few more instruments, the song then turns to Holcomb whose voice subtly accents the song with a twinge of country. Sudano is the third singer, and every time I listen to her heart-achingly beautiful voice, I can’t help but sit still and let it all sink in.

“Goodbye Road” was masterfully perfected by the two groups, and even in its randomness, it’s beautiful. Closer to the end, an interlude of “Amazing Grace” seamlessly slips in and out of the song, hummed by Ramirez, and interestingly enough, it works really well in terms of the atmosphere and flow of the song.

In spite of its initial shock value, the Goodbye Roads EP was effortlessly such a powerful collaboration of Johnnyswim and Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. Differing from their individual normal music, the EP was surprising in many ways but all in ways that I fully appreciated, knowing how much love and time went into it. Their excitement about their newest creative outlet showed deeply through their work, and it didn’t matter that the songs weren’t all upbeat and loud because, in the end, it all worked to their strengths to make something exquisite. 

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Goodbye Road is a seamless collaboration of Johnnyswim and Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors