Band: Jesh Yancey & The High Hopes: Jesh Yancey: lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Lizz Houg: upright bass; Jef Funk: harmonica; Ryan VanDyke: drums; Jeremy Ault: lead guitar; and Hough and Ryan Balthrop: background vocals
EP: ‘Maybe It’s The Drugs’
Struggling to overcome both personal and professional challenges can often ultimately lead independent artists to create relatable and empowering music. That’s certainly the case for singer-songwriter Jesh Yancey and his latest country EP, ‘Maybe It’s The Drugs,’ which is set to be released on November 3. Recording the sophomore album with his new band, Jesh Yancey & The High Hopes, the Denver-based musician is trying to make a difference with his songs, during which he reveals that he’s using the fuel of high hopes to be heard by, and make an impact amongst, his fans.
Spending four years in the Navy sparked Yancey’s desire to develop his artistry as a singer-songwriter. Shortly after releasing his solo debut album, last year’s ‘Livers and Diers,’ the performer had a handful of serendipitous encounters with musicians around his former home base of Mobile, Alabama, and formed his current group. The band’s songs naturally reflect his aesthetic to always be checking for ways around normalcy. That determination is powerfully showcased in the group’s dynamic hybrid psychedeltafolk vibe, which allows each member to inject their own musicality into each tune, and see what spontaneously results. Jesh Yancey & The High Hopes’s new EP features five tracks that thematically reflect how the frontman processes the way people confront society’s most important issues, including the over-prescribing of pharmaceutical drugs.
‘Maybe It’s The Drugs,’ which is influenced by the music of the mid-to-late ’60’s and early ’70’s, features a down home folk-country flavor that’s mixed with a swing back beat. Also mixing a classic feel that’s similar to the styles of such artists as the Grateful Dead, Country Joe McDonald and Bob Dylan, with a hot string tone, the members of Jesh Yancey & The High Hopes makes the genre their own through their unique style and approach.
The latest EP from the band begins with the folk-inspired entry, ‘When In Rome,’ which features a rhythm that’s driven by a country twang. Also compelled by a psychedelic harmonica that leads the instrumentation, which features a gripping rock undertone, Yancey warns his listeners about the dangers of embarking on the wrong path in life, especially as a result of peer pressure. Also featuring back-up vocals from the band’s bassist, Lizz Hough, which creates stunning tones of high and low timbres, the duo croons about the narrative’s hero also dealing with the continuous conflicts that arise from contending with the expectations of others. The initial song on ‘Maybe It’s The Drugs’ has the potential to instantly connect with audiences who see it performed live.
‘When In Rome’ then transitions into the sophomore track on Jesh Yancey & The High Hopes’ new EP, ‘Ridin’ High,’ which is one of the most noteworthy entries on the release. Driven by a captivating rhythm that features a blend of blues and funk elements on the wailing harmonica and sizzling guitar, which enthrallingly support Yancey’s drawling deep tenor, the tune naturally gives off sonic energy. The lyrics chronicle the natural exhilaration that the singer felt after performing a successful show at the Julep Room in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. With an upbeat blend of the harmonica and drums that captivatingly support Yancey’s vocals, the song chronicles how he can’t wait to get back to the place where he’s accepted, and no one cares what kind of shape he’s in.
The middle entry on ‘Maybe It’s The Drugs’ is the country-inspired ‘In A Pinch,’ which features rolling harmonies. The lyrics thoughtfully contemplate the reason why Yancey has a good excuse for nearly everything he does in life. He ponders why he tries to get out of every mess he finds himself in, without always taking full responsibility for his actions, and where he went wrong in his life. This contemplation allows him to consider that he’s lucky to have found someone who finally can help him, even if he’s not what she was looking for in life.
‘In A Pinch’ then shifts into the psychedelic-folk-inspired penultimate track on Jesh Yancey & The High Hopes’ latest EP, ‘My Little Soul and Me,’ which is another noteworthy and memorable entry. Featuring a powerful and stunning melody that takes inspiration from Chris Isaak’s sensuality, the song’s potent blues elements are perfectly highlighted on the vibrant blues elements on the guitar riffs. The instrumentals help inspire Yancey’s moody seduction in his sultry vocals, as he ponders where and why people sell their soul. He warns his listeners that instead of selling their souls to the devil, they should instead sell it to destiny, so that they can find peace on their life paths.
‘Maybe It’s The Drugs’ ends on a political note with its enticing title track. The song references the domestic and international social and ethical conflicts, particularly how the main way that people can survive the current environment is to immerse themselves into a drug-induced state of ignorance. Supported by a pulsating bassline, the pop-country tune also points out how society is warned against doing recreational drugs by the government, but people are still content to rely on prescriptions to handle their everyday reality. ‘Maybe It’s the Drugs’ reflects Yancey’s opinions of drug use, and is a stark view on how people are living in modern times.
Striving to overcome both personal and professional obstacles can often ultimately lead independent artists to create relatable and empowering music. That’s certainly the case for Jesh Yancey & The High Hopes’ new EP. Some of the group’s new tunes on ‘Maybe It’s The Drugs’ thematically reflect the frontman’s way of using the much-debated title subject matter to process how people challenge the way society confronts its most important issues, including the over-prescribing of pharmaceutical drugs. As a result, the lead singer-songwriter and his band are truly making a difference with their songs, during which he croons that he’s using the fuel of high hopes to be heard by, and make an impact amongst, his fans.