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On First Listen: 'Hold My Hand,' Wild Pink with Julien Baker

The flow of new music is constant and occasionally overwhelming. “On First Listen” helps you (and us) keep up by sharing our initial reactions to the latest releases.

Wild Pink had already started work on their upcoming album, ILYSM, when frontman John Ross received a cancer diagnosis. That emotional earthquake informs some of their efforts on the new LP, including the just-released single, “Hold My Hand.”

Anyone who’s had the disease invade some part of their life knows how wildly you can swing from sadness to rage and everything in between. This song occupies more of a zen space, lyrically and musically.

Bing & Ruth’s David Moore guests on piano, combining with Wild Pink drummer Dan Keegan to establish a tone that’s gentle without being fragile. Ross’ vocals follow suit to tell a tale about comfort and constancy, but also the need for reassurance:

Moonless night like a dreamless sleep
I was lost like a ring of keys
But you were there like light in the morning
You brought the birds back with a song in my tree
Wherever I go when I go down 
Will you be there when I come around again?

Julien Baker’s quavering voice on the second verse and in the harmonies with Ross throughout further reinforce the mood and message of interconnectedness. And Moore helps carry the song across the finish line with more intricate piano work, as well as a little lap steel guitar for good measure.

Listen to the track below, and watch for Wild Pink’s new album Oct. 14.