It’s a feat to craft a single that listeners will want to play over and over again. It has to have hooks; it has to have insight; it has to have charisma. A hit single can pull in some plays, but in the age of streaming, it takes an even stronger level of magnetism to entice an audience to explore an artists’ full catalogue with the influence of just one distinct song. Songwriter/producer Reed Gaines’ newest single, “Don’t Stay Quiet,” achieves that and more. It creates a connection with listeners that attaches itself deep in their souls and establishes Gaines as an artist with something to say—not just lyrically, but sonically.
But what specifically makes “Don’t Stay Quiet” so alluring?
For some, it will be the songwriting. The layers of vocals—the harmonies and octaves—as Gaines sings “leave it behind” are unmissable. The diminished chord that spices up the progression a moment later is both fun and compelling. He uses a keen structure, a haunting melody, and a sharp arrangement to glue together a tender piece about letting it out.
For others, it will be the production. At its foundation, there’s this warm, soothing low end—like a big pillow free for you to rest on. “Don’t Stay Quiet” makes visible Gaines’ range. It’s especially perceptible when placed next to his single, “Vampire.” He uses tranquilizing, atmospheric elements like his contemporaries Lord Huron or Phoebe Bridgers. In fact, you could call “Vampire” his “Kyoto” and “Don’t Stay Quiet” his “Garden Song.” If you let it in, the track has the strength to lift you up into the air. Close your eyes as the lead guitar slides in before the second verse and feel yourself floating—weightless. This feeling is enhanced by the performances. Gaines’ tone is like a calming voice in your head. The keys, guitar, and bass: clean and smooth.
For me, it’s the outro. The percussion implemented as the song comes to a close is actually what makes me want to listen to the complete works of Reed Gaines more than any other of this particular song’s accomplishments. The brief change to the hat-hat-snare, hat-hat-snare, kick-snare (and so forth) pattern speaks volumes about the artists’ grasp on groove. It alludes to his ability to write music that’s inherently interesting, not because he studied or learned it, but because it’s in his blood.
Reed Gaines is an indie-pop/rock virtuoso from Nashville. By day, he hones his craft on the other side of the monitor engineering at Happy Camper Studios. The opportunity to produce and mix artists like Carter Vail, Sabel, and Kid Sistr placed him on the solo project path he now follows. He put out his second EP at the brink of 2021, and this marks his second single release since then. “Don’t Stay Quiet” is an essential addition to your Sunday-summer-drive playlist. It puts the breeze in your hair as you cruise through the warmest time of the year.
Written by Matt Kalicky