Hank Quillen – “Treading Water” – Single Review
Hank’s got a lot of things working well for him on his new single “Treading Water,” and reveals a couple spots where he’ll be able to evolve in the future to follow at the same time – which to be fair to the guy, is really about the same as just about any of us, is it not? What I like is the way this dude writes a tune – if anything, that’s where you can tell the ultimate strengths are in what he creates…he’s an artist with his words, and quickly proves he’s got the ability to express his thoughts/feelings in a highly relatable way with an added sense of insightful wisdom & poetry too. All-in-all, in that regard, a track like “Treading Water” really ain’t that far removed from the realm of something like what you’d experience in the low-key Pearl Jam tunes like “Wishlist” found back on the album Yield from back in the day.
Musically, he’s got great hooks to be found here. I’m not gonna be the guy to say that what he’s created in “Treading Water” is anything super-complex, but when you’re considering the theme the song comes along with too…I mean…how could it be – or why would it be? “Treading Water” is a whole lot different than “Breaking Ground” would have been – make sense? That being said, the repetitive lines from his guitar are humble and pretty much remain guaranteed to appeal to the people out there listening – and the synth addition he puts into “Treading Water” is actually quite addictive, even though it almost plays like it was an afterthought or last minute inclusion into this tune. The drums work well, the structure of the song itself is solid & has life to it…Hank might be “Treading Water,” but he’s far from sinking just yet.
To be truthful, cuts like this actually walk a very, very fine line. You want to communicate the point, the theme, the idea – which I’d argue Hank does exceptionally well…almost too well in fact, which is where things become trickier. You want to express the theme of “Treading Water” without veering into sounding like that’s completely the case & the stone cold honest truth of the matter…which is really tough to do. So in my opinion, that’s where he’s tying in the theme & idea to the performance of this single, and it stands a good chance of running him into a bit of trouble with perception in the people’s ears. What I can tell you is this – Hank CAN sing…he proves that to you with the way he hits certain notes throughout “Treading Water” without question – but where he can definitely improve his game as an artist is by further understanding which notes are going to make the most sense at the right time, to us as listeners. The majority of what becomes a series of unsure & clashing notes are found in the main chorus of his new single…and that’s just something he’s gonna have to live with for now as it stands. I have no doubt whatsoever that with time & experience & more opportunities for him to sing this song, the stronger it eventually all becomes – because the right ideas are there…it’s the execution that needs to level-up to match them. All the way through the first verse though, I felt like I had full confidence in Hank’s vocals as much as the music, and right up to that major change in the chorus with the word “lately” that throws him into a bit of a tailspin trying to find the right approach or way to sing that particular part of the song, he was doing really well to hold his own. Again, in my personal opinion, he’s proven in just about every moment outside of the chorus that he’s got great tone when he knows the right direction & way he wants to sing something – but when it comes to the main hooks, he’s slightly wide of the mark he’s aiming for. Which to be fair, within the framework of an idea like “Treading Water,” could be EXACTLY what he was aiming for stylistically…but the reality is the results are no less awkward for us to experience as listeners even if that is indeed the case. So my ultimate advice and/or recommendation here, is to remember that the listeners out there don’t always hear an idea, so much as they just hear the sound of what’s right in front of them…and probably give this another go as far as the vocals are concerned. I’ve always gotta hold folks accountable to the talent they’ve proven to have, and were it not for so many moments going RIGHT for Hank along the way through “Treading Water,” I wouldn’t have anything to compare the rest to, and know that he’s got more in the tank he’s holding back from us here. On the bright side of things, most people out there aren’t going to call him on it and simply say ‘good job’ or ‘nice song man’ – so there’s that. I just happen to be THAT guy, that always thinks the best way to help assist the scene is to challenge each and every artist & band to be their very best, whether they recognize, appreciate it, like me, or not. I serve a much larger & more humble purpose overall…which is to help the artists & bands out there like to not be “Treading Water” forever, and reach the success they’re truly seeking out, however they choose to define that for themselves. I’m confident Hank will get there…just gotta be a bit more objective in listening back to his finished tunes & hold himself to the higher standards that his ideas deserve…and if he can do that, he’s well on his way.
Find out more about Hank Quillen from his official website at: https://hankquillen.com
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