Hunter Sheridan taps into something raw and authentic in his latest single, 'Without a Sound'
Artwork by Krishna Veerappan.
For as long as I can remember, lyrics have been the primary focal point in the way that I connect with and form attachments to music. I have an inexplicable fascination with their ability to capture, explore, and express a novel, resonant perspective on some facet of the human experience. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not immune to the charms of catchy bubblegum pop or the timeless gibberish of Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”, but the heart of a song, to me, has always been the words. There’s a strange sort of magic in that relatable verse that makes you feel understood in some small way, or in the song that expresses an emotion you didn’t know there was even words for. Sheridan taps into a little piece of that magic in “Without a Sound”. The chorus holds the understated narrative of the song, a raw moment of unspoken understanding, belonging, and insecurity. Expressed in the titular sentiment “And I heard you say without a sound / ‘I felt lost, but now I’m found / Don’t let me down, don’t let me down’”, Sheridan artfully juxtaposes finding solace and acceptance in an intimate relationship with the vulnerability it brings and the trepidation of finding yourself depending on someone. Those three lines really struck me, and have stuck with me since my first listen. That, to me, seems such a beautifully succinct and sincere way to convey a very real, familiar moment. That sort of genuine, human ambivalence of contradictory yet complimentary emotions: excitement and caution, love and doubt. The same premise is mused throughout the song’s verses, with lines like “Not all hearts beat at the same time / Maybe yours and mine were always intertwined” being followed and contrasted by: “When I need you there to save me from the fray / Will you be there as my shoulder every day?”. It’s approached with subtlety, but Sheridan manages to aptly encapsulate something very honest and authentic. Or at least, that’s my take. Maybe I’m listening too closely, but it’s a song that invites a close listen. The beginning has a very minimalist and intimate feel, as though you’re in a big, empty room with just Sheridan and his guitar. The production manages to maintain that feeling of intimacy and spaciousness as that empty room starts to slowly fill with each new piece of instrumentation. Building and building in a steady crescendo, every addition to the arrangement seems to kick in smoothly when it should, organically, accenting the song without overtaking it. This crescendo breaks at the bridge, the dynamic and emotional high point of the production, as Sheridan’s softly sung uncertainties become exclamations of devotion. Then, just before the song reaches its’ conclusion, you’re suddenly, yet gently pulled back into that big, empty room. This fluctuation in tone, and the supporting production, serves to further cement and highlight the theme of vacillating between assurance and insecurity. Though to be fair, it could be about something else entirely. That’s just my interpretation, and that’s part of the magic of a well-written song. You might hear or feel something I didn’t, and there’s no wrong way to do either. The only definite is Sheridan’s ability to evoke a genuine emotional response from his audience. I’d heartily recommend you give ‘Without a Sound’ a listen for yourself, ideally on a rainy afternoon drive or with a pair of headphones and a heavy heart.
- Jack Darby