EP Review: Falling Asleep at the Wheel // Holly Humberstone

In music reviews, it is all too easy to try and compare one artist to another to set the scene for the reader, especially when the singer-songwriter in question is relatively new to the scene. But having listened to Holly Humberstone’s debut EP Falling Asleep at the Wheel it feels an injustice to compare her to anyone. This striking debut has such emotional depth that it signals the arrival of a bright new talent.

Twenty-year-old Humberstone hails from Grantham and, judging from the talent on display here, it won’t be long before she joins Sir Isaac Newton and Margaret Thatcher as another famous face of the Lincolnshire Market Town. Holly had already marked her arrival with several single releases and a support slot on Lewis Capaldi’s tour just before the Coronavirus pandemic hit. Falling Asleep at the Wheel adds to her growing reputation with six songs which grow from melancholic opener ‘Deep End’ to the upbeat pop of ‘Livewire’

The EP starts with the strongest track, a deeply personal message of support to her three sisters and one that will melt the iciest of hearts. The simple presentation of the track, sung over an electric slide guitar touches on the subject of depression with the powerful lines “You’ve practised your lines to convince us you’re fine but I know that’s not where you are”. Haunting and beautiful, the imagery flickers like a video of sisterly love through your minds eye.

With a chorus of “I’m falling, falling asleep at the wheel, guess I forgot how to feel”, the EP’s title track retains the effortless vocals of the opener over a piano before upping the pace with electronic beats. Given the subject matter of a fading relationship, the track calls you to the dancefloor without ever losing the vocals or messaging in the beat.

What makes this is EP stand out is that despite the raw and honest lyrics, Holly Humberstone is not a one trick pony. The summery guitar and jangly percussion of ‘Overkill’ could be playing from a radio on Venice Beach, LA, whilst the straight pop vibe of ‘Vanilla’ with the line “I have my best nights without you” could be a post relationship anthem. ‘Drop Dead’ has a pounding chorus and powerful vocal range, and closing your eyes you get swept away by the stark lyrics set against a simple but upbeat ambience. 

To take such serious subjects and avoid depressive cliche takes skill. Rather than any risk of Falling Asleep at the Wheel, this debut had me winding the windows down, turning up the volume and singing along. 

Words by Andrew Butcher

Visit Andrew’s blog here.


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