Destitution Meets Compassion in Holly Humberstone’s “Easy Tiger”

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Well, I spent the whole of last week underwater
On occasion, I would surface from my room
Got a first-class view from right here in my fortress
Got a staring contest going with the moon

Holly Humberstone’s “Easy Tiger” is not lacking in slow, deliberate destitution.

The song begins with the kind of sadness that settles like humidity over a whole house, seeping into every room and dampening each surface. It turns kitchen chairs into funeral pews and vases into urns. Even the music itself is thickened by it, right from the get-go – a lonely guitar is saturated with a chorus effect, and Humberstone’s layered vocals surround the listener like a choir of ghosts.

There’s a bunch of purple lockets from my mother
They complement the pile of dirty clothes
No wonder I’ve got five missed calls from Lauren
Guess it’s her job to worry, I suppose

A friend of mine gave me a name for writing like this: micro-lyricism. Give a rapid-fire list of your surroundings, mention a few vaguely melancholy events, and get overly specific about details and names that seem unimportant. It’s a trendy method of songwriting these days, popularized by Phoebe Bridgers and her ilk. It can come across as lazy or even manipulative at times.

But man, does it get the job done, especially here.

By the end of the second verse, the listener can’t help but find themselves right in the room with her. The spell has done its work. The pre-chorus comes and goes, and the loneliness is palpable.

But then, in the chorus, something happens to separate this from a standard sad-indie-girl song. And this is why I’m writing about it.

Settle down now, easy tiger
It’ll all be over soon
Put your feet up on the dashboard
And we’ll ride this out together

The verses describe something worse than sadness. They describe loneliness. For two stanzas, we were forced to watch as Humberstone isolated herself in her room, ignoring phone calls and laundry duties.

But the chorus introduces a new voice, and it’s the voice of compassion (in the truest etymological sense of the word com-passion, to suffer with.) The mood isn’t lightened, but something even better has happened.

It is shared.

The emotion boils, until it spills over in the bridge:

Let it all out, my dearest one
Let it all out, it’s alright, my dearest

This is what gives the song its power. The lyrics are simple, but the sentiment is as complex as life itself. Destitution has a necessary role to play, but it is not given the final word. In the midst of a hard night at the end of a hard week, Humberstone lets it all out, and is met with compassion. It’s not a sad song for the sake of sadness; it’s a sad song for the sake of relationship.

The post Destitution Meets Compassion in Holly Humberstone’s “Easy Tiger” appeared first on Two Story Melody.

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