Tall Heights went into their third album, 2018’s Pretty Colors For Your Actions, with a singular studio vision. As the Boston duo told The Lost Art of Liner Notes, they wanted to “create something very human, but also larger than life.” Their latest single, “Keeps Me Light,” is a worthy continuation of that work, infusing grand pop soundscapes with indie folk intimacy.
The song unfolds in an awesome whirlwind of different spaces. Even from the intro, which invokes the openness of a concert hall in samples of an orchestra tuning, to the first chorus, where the processing falls away from an up-close and emotional vocal, the duo play with distance and wind up with something both epic and individual.
The lyrics follow suit as they celebrate the support and security found in a friend. A lot of artists seek to offer comfort in difficult times, maybe now more than ever, but few succeed with the sheer feeling and sober honesty of the chorus declaration: “I don’t mind if the world’s running out of light / I’ll stay, I’ll stay there by your side.” There’s no promise that everything will be alright, only the promise of a shoulder to lean on, whatever happens to humanity at large.
When the track’s buildup suddenly stops, breaking down into claps and a cappella vocals provided by Upper Structure, the effect is almost overwhelmingly cathartic. “Keeps Me Light” ends in a dark place with thunder rumbling under the last quiet chorus, but after so much sonic tension, the sound of the rain comes as an acute relief.
According to their website, Tall Heights have another self-produced single on the way as they gear up for a 2020 headlining tour. “Keeps Me Light” shows that whatever’s in the duo’s future, they’re meeting it with equal parts tenderness and strength.