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Alex Young – Hell or High Water, single review

Featuring on his latest album, ‘Into the Light’, Yorkshire-born singer-songwriter Alex Young shares his single ‘Hell or High Water’ with RGM Magazine. 

Originally from Barnsley, Young drew influence from his life’s experience of growing up in the Yorkshire town which, subsequently, influenced a large part of his existing discography. Despite now living in Tuscany and working as an English teacher for many years, themes of the past still appear throughout his latest album. 

Hell or High Water’, however, holds a focus on the idea of emotional endurance and patience by, “making the most of time” as, “it will be worth the climb”. The lyrics incorporate ideas of repetition, almost mimicking a matric-like prayer one would say to themselves whilst facing hardship, needing to encourage self-resolution; “Snap out snap out just snap out of it, use your time. Snap out snap out just snap out of it, draw the line”. 

Musically, the composition feels like Violent Femmes meets Will Young. The twangy steel-stringed guitar certainly gives the track a more rustic, rough-and-ready feel, but the softer vocals and ballad-like approach to the arrangement allows that more accessible side to cut through, rounding off the instrumentation’s harsher edge. Structurally, and like most ballad-y tracks, the ‘Hell or High Water’ does lack a weightier spark of excitement. The chunky riff is the song’s main backbone, and though its simplicity is certainly catchy, the scarcity of variation makes the song feel a little dry, falling short of leaving a more substantial effect on the listener. 

‘Hell or Highwater’ positively enforces a positive air of encouragement to those stuck in the mud searching for a boost in spirit. The groove certainly allows Young’s message to be shared through an enjoyable foot-tapper, but does fall short in the compositional sense of being a stand-out single from ‘Into the Light’.