It’s rare for all of the Send Me Your Ears team to be moved to tears, but the latest single from Kristen Grainger & True North has had us all wiping our eyes and finding more than a few lump-in-throat moments.

‘Buckeye State’ is the name of the latest single from this talented Oregon duo of Kristen Grainger and Dan Wetzel and it’s a positively heartbreaking song.

Buckeye State starts with some lovely thick warm guitar with a great deal of low-end power in it. When Kristen’s vocals come in, they are fragile, heartfelt and absolutely charming. Her voice is earnest with some lovely breathiness to it and you feel compelled to listen to every word.

Buckeye State is the gut-wrenching tale of a ten-year-old Ohio child, impregnated by her rapist and unable to seek an abortion under Ohio law. This leads to her and her family seeking help far from home. In the words of the band; “Such trauma and the malignant oversight of officials meant to protect our well-being as citizens, give a heavy reminder to rethink the perceptions of right and wrong, and what it means to be human”.

We could pick any single line from this track to let you know just how poignant this song is. The lyrics are absolutely stunning and we can’t even imagine how Grainger could possibly muster the emotional strength to perform this track in front of an audience, but we hope she does. The message is paramount.

Certain lines gave us visible goosebumps; “when your fifth-grade body is the scene of a crime”. This one hits you right in all the feels, I’m emotional as I write this up and the rest of the team has wandered off to drink coffee in silence and try to shake it off.

We loved the comparison that Grainger draws between what she was doing at the age of ten (saving pocket money for a pair of roller skates), and what the poor girl from the Buckeye state was going through. This is really clever stuff, and honestly, some of the most powerful lyrics we’ve heard in a long time.

The song doesn’t need anything more than just a simple guitar and vocal. Anything more would have detracted from the message. This song holds up perfectly and we’re unsurprised to read that Grainger won the folk category of the 2020 USA Songwriting Competition.

From a production perspective, this is a very smooth-sounding song and the production and instrumentation are kept simple so as not to detract from the hard-hitting lyrics. To our ears, a wide and fairly large boost centred around 3-3.5kHz would add to the presence and definition of both the guitar and the vocal. Also, with only two ‘instruments’ it is hard to get a sense of stereo in the track. Most DAWs have a stock plugin for added stereo which can be really fun to use.

one of the most emotionally powerful hard-hitting tracks that we’ve heard this year, Buckeye State needs to be heard by a wide audience. Please add this track to your playlist.