What do we know of Edgar Allan Poe?
We know that he’s certainly one of the most revered writers of all time. His work is taught in schools and has been inspirational to many of his noteworthy successors.
We also know that recurrent depression ultimately led to his death. He epitomizes the “tortured artist.” Audiences are captivated by Poe’s macabre persona. We tend to think that those who wrestle with demons are capable of producing the most profound artwork. This holds especially true for musicians. Roger Waters, Kurt Cobain, and Neil Young come to mind.
Stereotypes aside, anyone who writes and fights depression knows that in fact mental illness is not a conduit for inspiration. It demotivates, blocks, and suppresses the creative process. That said, when the clouds clear, affected writers are able to burst out of the gates with some next-level originality.
Dennis Sjöström of Sweden has been dealing with his own depression for years, but has returned to the virtual stage as his musical persona, The Hollow Men, to offer audiences a piece they can empathize with during these trying times. “Silence” tackles themes of loneliness, insecurity, and despondency. At its core, the single tries to find meaning in life, and that glimmer of optimism is communicated not just through its lyrics, but through the music. We only hear the tonic briefly during the chorus—it’s our hint of hope. Throughout the rest of the song, the chord progression dances so close, but intentionally keeps away to maintain tension.
“Silence” showcases Sjöström’s talents as a multi-instrumentalist. Not only is he technically proficient, but his arrangement of the song is crisp, tight, and interesting. Its production is peaceful. The track belongs on a playlist dedicated to rainy, Saturday-morning jams. Stand-out elements of the single include its ethereal reverb, thoughtful layering, and a beautiful, stripped-down bridge where an acoustic guitar and piano join forces.
This is the first Hollow Men release since 2018’s “Speak” and “It’s Alright”—which have over 1.2 million combined streams on Spotify. This modern, folk, one-man show is in the same vein as Damien Rice or Ben Howard, but with a poppier twist.
On August 21, The Hollow Men will release “Silence.” Its lyrics show that battling depression is tough, but it’s totality shows that life’s ups and downs don’t have to get in the way of great songwriting.
Written by Matt Kalicky