Today, at the Send Me Your Ears studio, we’ve been listening to the latest single from Austrian, Herald K. The song is called Arethusa and it’s simply beautiful in our opinion.
The song is inspired by the ancient Greek myth of the water nymph, Arethusa. A song about yin & yang, temptation, passion and transformation.
Arethusa starts with the gentle sounds of a babbling brook, with gorgeously warm, John Prine style picked guitar. As the solo instrument comes in, we were all debating whether it was a cello or a violin. It didn’t feel quite right to be either for sure, but there was something so striking and so warm and perfect for the song about it. We always try to make sure we don’t read a biography before we listen to a track so that our opinions aren’t swayed by anything, so, on reading the bio after the third listen, we learned that the solo instrument is a nyckelharpa. Wow – that’s a new one to us! The nyckelharpa is a traditional Swedish instrument that has been played, in one form or another as it evolved, for more than 600 years. It truly is an incredible and evocative sound and works perfectly in this song; sometimes taking a solo and sometimes adding some interesting characterful incidental riffs between vocal lines.
The male lead vocal in this track feels a little Leonard Cohen like. Very deep and warm and sitting nicely in this folk inspired story song. After a while in the track a female harmony is added, which creates even more depth to the track, and towards the end there’s a glorious section with two female vocal harmonies that feels partly Carter Family style and partly truly “other worldly”.
From a production perspective, Herald K has done well to fill out the sound so well with so few instruments. We’d suggest a little notch out in the acoustic guitar track at 196Hz where the G is just a little dominant. Maybe consider boosting around 80Hz for a little extra warmth. A boost around 2-2.5kHz will add some extra definition, and a notch out around 3.5-4kHz will help avoid a little too much sibilance in the vocal track. Perhaps also consider a shelf boost around 8kHz for some extra air and brightness.
Arethusa is a simply stunning track which floats along calmly and peacefully. Herald K has managed to create an almost Tolkein-like soundscape that lovers of traditional and contemporary folk music will fall in love with.