Ambitiously fusing bluegrass with their jazz-rock roots, the St. Louis-based indie folk-rock band, Pawns or Kings, musically explores philosophy and the human experience.
In 2010, the musicians originally formed as the progressive rock band, Race to Olvido, but soon, the band shifted their artistry towards a genre that allowed existential ponderings to become the main focus. Their melancholy yet intriguing approach to folk-rock defies traditions, properly placing them in the realm of the heavy-hitters like Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, and Fleet Foxes.
Pawns or Kings describes their newly released single, “Anymore,” as a, “good ol’ fashion folk Americana song with the sort of stripped down melodies we have been known for in the past. It was the first song I wrote after nearly four years of severe writer’s block.”
“Anymore” is compositionally haunting and tearful, while lyrically working much like a short story by William Faulkner; receiving practically no background or foreshadowing, the songwriter permits the audience to stay for a few contemplative moments to discover his sorrow.
With a minimalist production that catches every sigh, the song surrounds the listener in an atmosphere of introspection. The verses are each followed by a whistled melody reminiscent of an old Western score that also acts as a semi-stylized weeping for the chorus. “I always hoped that there was more, I open my mouth, but it’s just noise… No, I don’t sing anymore.”
The emotions Pawns or Kings strives to evoke are strikingly similar to pondering a death, which is exemplified by the song’s once encouraged troubadour coming to terms with the world’s empty promises. “Anymore” grieves while gently sharing a cautionary deeper wisdom.
Pawns or Kings understands how powerfully effective simple lyrics and melodies can be when crafting a song that will never age. Once the soul-searching paralysis of hearing “Anymore” for the first time wears off, there is an addictive sorrow that swells within the listeners, compelling them to hit repeat with the hopes of recreating the experience all over.
In addition to being highly singable and deserving of a place on every rainy day Spotify playlist, “Anymore” seemingly has a much deeper purpose that transcends mere entertainment. This single is a song to hurt and heal by — a song that perhaps belongs to the world now as an act of public service for the exhausted and broken-hearted dreamers.