Well-worn paths are, you realise when you head down one, well-worn for a reason. It’s the same in music: songs about love never become hackneyed because of their timelessness. Lawson Hull knows how to write these songs better than most.
The Newcastle-born singer-songwriter has returned with his new EP, Mountain Days, a stirring ode to his time living in the Watagans National Park before moving back to the safe confines of suburbia with his wife.
It’s a time capsule, the seven songs containing fond memories of that period of relative solitude, but the EP also has a strong undercurrent of love and romance; when you’re making music about a time spent mostly in the fine company of your partner, it’s to be expected.
“There is definitely a theme of love running through the EP,” Hull says. “Our first year of married life (was) spent living here. When you’re away from the noise, the important things stand out.”
To celebrate the release of Hull’s heartfelt record, Tone Deaf got him to discuss in detail each track on Mountain Days, which you can read below.
‘Timezones’ opens the EP with an overall positive energy. It was one of the first songs I’d written with Riley Pearce and we both easily landed on this idea of longing for someone over distance and time. Riley being in Perth and myself being on the east coast, writing over zoom, the writing process was helped by us trying to connect over the divide. Border closures were still a thing at the time and we both felt for people (including ourselves) who couldn’t just get on a cheap flight and see loved ones.
Get the latest Indie news, features, updates and giveaways straight to your inbox Learn more
‘Wanna Be With You’
I feel like writing a love song never gets old, although ‘Wanna Be With You’ is more about the whirlwind of first encounters. Yes, they’re easy to write and can’t really go wrong, but the best love songs put you in the scene, like it’s about the listener. If you can show a sense of earnestness and paint the picture of growing old with your lover, I think you’ve done a good thing. You want people to believe it’s real, so you thread specific memories throughout the song.
Writing this with Riley, we wanted people to feel the rush of young love and adventure but have the undertone of old love, as if you can see where it’s going in the long run. Two lovers meet on a night out, dancing and watching the band. They get wrapped up in each other and decide to venture off into the night, swim in the cold and watch a sunrise.
The chorus is a long shot. The main character is getting ahead of themselves, but I’d prefer to think they’re saying it quietly to themselves – like, this is special. By the time the bridge comes around I get the feeling a whole summer has gone by. The song might come across very linear, but to me I hear it differently all the time and I hope every person that hears it, interprets it differently.
The song aims to be nostalgic with tapy acoustics and warm electric guitars. The drums are muted and boxy in moments to give a feel of being in a vacuum with someone else and nothing else matters.
‘Stitches’ reflects on a toxic person from my childhood. It’s about seeing loved ones suffer at the hands of greedy people. It’s the most personal track on the EP and maybe the most personal song I’ve released. This was one of those songs that virtually appeared on the notepad in front of me and was done in 15 minutes. It’s been played the same way since I put the pen down and never been workshopped. I think it came easy because of the emotional build up, and the release the writing brought.
‘Leaving’ is the token breakup song that an artist needs to get out of their system every once in a while, even if they’ve been in a long term relationship for many years! Of all the songs on the EP, ‘Leaving’ is the only one written a lifetime ago but never quite got out there, and now it’s probably my favourite.
Like ‘Stitches’, it calls back to a past life that inevitably needed some resolving. Breakups can unfold in the weirdest of ways and you don’t necessarily process the breakdown of the relationship in a linear way. It’s sporadic and a bit of a puzzle that makes sense over time.
This song refers to some cheating that was going on, which insanely sucks but over time you allow yourself to get a little sarcastic and light-hearted. It’s funny because the person cheats on you, breaks up with you, but still cries to you as if it’s hard for them (which, looking back, I’m sure it actually was). That’s why the chorus goes, “find yourself a reason to be crying when I’m leaving”.
This song reminisces about the time spent living in Canada for four months with my now-wife. The verses kind of act like journal entries – candid and specific. I remember Rhianna being scared out of her mind at the potential of seeing a grizzly while hiking. The joke was they were more scared of us… that’s what I told her anyway.
We spent a lot of time in the Rockies and eventually made our way over to Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Our trip wrapped up there. It was bittersweet because we were having such a good time but the closer we got to being home, we just wanted to be there already. We missed people and were running out of money. This song is really nostalgic for me and definitely one to add to a road trip playlist.
The first song Riley and I ever wrote on the Zoom calls. I’d had a couple of lyrics about making plans and never fulfilling them. Riley had this idea of a car never making it past second gear. Not sure if this is an actual problem cars get, but it worked! It’s beautiful and simple and I thought this has to be in the EP somehow. It felt right playing it as a one-take live recording. It’s intimate and something real for the listener.
‘Simple Life, Baby’
‘Simple Life, Baby’ comes from being on the road with work or music, and just missing your lover. It’s weird being apart when you spend so much time with them. I think I wrote it before going on tour with Riley once and then played it to Rhianna before I left. It’s her song and I’m really proud of it. Whenever I go away, we talk about what it’ll be like when I’m back. It’s always the simple things we miss about each other.
Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
Subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine
Subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine