The ever poignant pens of rising country act Southern Call masterfully unravel the inner conflicts of the narrator in the Nashville-based duo’s latest single “Hey Highway.” Maintaining their persistent focus on storytelling, Cierra Louise and Sean Trainor craft a nuanced portrait of a character engulfed in feelings of regret, hope, and pride, imbuing the protagonist with both vulnerability and dignity.
Southern Call effectively utilizes figurative language to develop the narrator’s journey from emotional turmoil to tentative healing. By addressing three different entities (the highway, the horizon, and heartache) in the same manner one might talk to an old friend (or – in the case of heartache – an unwelcome acquaintance), the pair discloses information about the character’s painful past while also hinting at seemingly more positive future prospects. While the distance (both physical and emotional) that the character places between herself and the “cheap love” in her old town may not provide immediate closure, it offers her the opportunity for growth. Oftentimes travel can be viewed as a symbol of escape and/or freedom; in this case traveling also forces the narrator to confront and learn from her own mistakes.
There is no clear-cut end to the narrator’s plight. Instead, the ending refrain reveals that, much like real-life, her personal path is always evolving. Even as the pain dulls coping with the aftermath of her hurt continues.
As always, Southern Call’s reflective lyrics are further elevated by the duo’s emotive harmonies. Their plaintive vocals aptly convey both the narrator’s initially conflicted feelings (“The leavin’ ain’t as hard as staying gone”) and her resilience (“My vices and my demons/What you took/And what I’m hoping you have found/Are gone from me now”).
Due to the details included in “Hey Highway” the song feels fresh while also retaining a sense of timelessness. By managing to simultaneously capture the narrator’s sense of uncertainty and determination, the members of Southern Call once again prove their mettle as appealing songwriters who refuse to settle for easy resolutions.