Britain’s Holly Humberstone establishes herself as an artist to watch with her tender, fervent song “Falling Asleep at the Wheel,” an arresting indie pop confessional and magnificently infectious breath of life from a tortured soul.
for fans of Lorde, Phoebe Bridgers, Bon Iver
“Falling Asleep at the Wheel” – Holly Humberstone
We think we’re in control, but often times we’re not. We are slaves to our emotions and prone to acting out of impulse, rather than reason. Anxiety drives some, whilst fear or doubt drives others. Sure, there are ways and means for us to cope and rise above it all – and we often do – but that takes concentrated effort, time, and attention: Three qualities that are getting less popular every day. Only when we grab ahold of our emotions can we get back in the driver’s seat; only when we are fully present and in the moment can we really focus and dedicate our authentic ourselves to the task at hand.
British singer/songwriter Holly Humberstone admits to not being in full control on her second single “Falling Asleep at the Wheel,” but that’s alright because she’s already taking those important first steps toward self-awareness and self-discovery. A tender, fervent indie pop upheaval, “Falling Asleep at the Wheel” is an arresting confessional full of tension, inner turmoil, and coming-of-age questions of identity and purpose.
Oh, you never smoked
this much before we met
Light up, light up another cigarette
I can tell you’re drinking only to forget
Don’t know how I got you in such a mess
Independently released March 19, “Falling Asleep at the Wheel” is a quick and exciting follow-up for Grantham-based Holly Humberstone. The talented 20-year-old introduced herself at the end of January with debut single “Deep End,” whose opening lyrics alone (“throw me in the deep end, I’m ready now to swim. The air in my lungs may not last very long, but I’m in) signified great things to come for this young firebrand.
Whereas “Deep End” began Humberstone’s journey with a slow and brooding rocky reflection, her sophomore song is an uptempo, pulsing pop-adjacent immersion. She stuns, channeling the best parts of Lorde and Bon Iver, HAIM and Phoebe Bridgers while crafting a distinct style and sonic identity that, if we let it, can surely be her own. The young artist showcases her exquisite voice through gorgeous jumps full of cool confidence; she sweeps us off our feet with rugged elegance, her sheer honesty a formidable power in and of itself. Blending piano and keys with propulsive guitars and drums, Humberstone builds up to haunting choruses full of emotion. She expresses her self-doubt and uncertainty with poise, owning her flaws and thereby asserting authority over her world. For a time she’s in control, and she knows it.
How am I supposed to be
your ray of light, your ray of light?
I get dark sometimes, does it pass you by?
I should be your ray of light, your ray of light
But I’m falling, falling asleep at the wheel
Guess I forgot how to feel
Just for a second, you’re talking
But I’m just pretending you have my attention
I’m falling, falling asleep at the wheel
I made you think it was real
If you think we’re strong enough
Come on and wake me up
“‘Falling Asleep at the Wheel’ is a song that means a lot to me, Humberstone explains. “I wrote it a while ago whilst still unsure of who I wanted to be and where I wanted to head musically. Writing this song was probably the first time I felt like I knew who I was within the music I was making. The track is about losing momentum and feeling like your emotions will slowly destroy the relationship you’re in and you altogether. I think the dark, wonky sonics define who I am musically, which is why Falling Asleep At The Wheel is such a milestone track for me, and has taught me so much about myself as a musician. We created the song at the house I grew up in, which is very old and falling apart, in the middle of the countryside. You can almost hear the weird sounds of the house within the track.”
As intimate as the song is on its own, Humberstone’s accompanying music video kicks things up to new heights. Staring straight at the camera, she spills her guts in a vivid display of sincerity. She sings like it’s just us and her alone together, bringing us deeper into her world – one of mystery and growth, fragility and learning. Despite moving slowly across the ground (as if she’s being pulled by some invisible force), Humberstone never breaks her eye contact; she never fidgets, nor does she even go so far as to acknowledge the fact that she is seemingly floating inches above a changing surface. She dedicated all her attention to her song, inviting us to feel her insecurity as she wears it like a badge of honor on her chest.
Humberstone explains, “We created the video for ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel’ very close to my childhood home, which is where I also shot the video for Deep End. It’s completely out in the middle of nowhere, so thankfully no one noticed me floating along the road at 1am in the morning! It wasn’t the most plain sailing shoot – car battery died at the dead of night, in the pouring rain, generator completely stuck in the mud and my little toe had gone numb. Wouldn’t have had it any other way! It’s where I feel the most me and I love that all of this is coming from that one place.”
Listening to “Falling Asleep at the Wheel,” it’s clear that Holly Humberstone doesn’t have her whole life figured out yet – and we wouldn’t have it any other way. She is fractured, yet the mere fact that she is willing and able to embrace these less-than-perfect attributes in her art is itself a one-in-a-million skill set. That she can then translate her visceral emotions into catchy and relatable songs is the icing on the cake that will keep us both coming back and eagerly waiting for more.
“Falling Asleep at the Wheel” is haunting, heavy, and overwhelmingly honest: A magnificently infectious breath of life from a tortured soul.
Come on and wake up to this exciting artist to watch!
“Falling Asleep at the Wheel” – Holly Humberstone
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