In the music industry, there is such a thing as demo-itis. Demo-itis is when you listen to the original writer’s demo and love it/hear it so much that it’s hard to ever make a better version.
Kelleigh Bannen embraced this wholeheartedly and released a song recorded right from her kitchen. “The Optimist” is perfectly sparse production-wise, and full lyric-wise. While beyond more than just a demo, Bannen captured that essence for her ever-so-timely release.
The song opens with a quiet piano, and Bannen’s voice fills your ears soon after. In the verse, she lists all the simple things that she believes in, things such as hand-written love letters, good timing, midnight pizza, and New York City in the rain. By the time the chorus hits, where she explores themes of self-doubt and hesitation, beautiful guitars and mellow strings harmonize her voice. The hook of the song, however, is about how great love can change your dwindling perspective. “I believe in second chances / Wine drunk kitchen dances / And magic ain’t just on TV / But I can’t believe you made an optimist out of me”.
The stunning ballad was co-written by Bannen, Will Bowen, who also produced the track and Claire Douglas back in September, but the song was recorded in the midst of quarantine. “The pace of all of our lives has slowed down so much, and I need a little extra hope right now… doesn’t everybody?” Bannen says in a press release. “This song is about seeing the world with a fresh, and hopeful perspective. It was recorded as a simple piano vocal and was only ever supposed to be a demo. When I heard the song back, it just struck me differently in this season we’re all weathering, so I wanted to share it.”
Bannen leaves a lot of space throughout the song, and it’s part of the reason it evokes so much emotion. Her delivery and the universally timeless lyrics don’t sound like anything that’s been said before, yet it sounds so familiar. “What makes this song feel special is that it doesn’t even feel like I wrote it,” Bannen told American Songwriter. “This song is a lesson to me. And some of the images in this song that we wrote months ago are so zoomed into what is happening right now…it’s crazy. It’s really about finding that next little place of hope.”
Hope is floating all around in this song, and you can hear it in her voice. Bannen created her own kind of magic that will stand the test of time, and hopefully, remind everyone that this too shall pass.
“The Optimist” is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.
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