Hourstone’s “My Sorceress” continues in the same lush vein as the artist’s prior singles and we’re better off for it. He’s distinguished himself as a purveyor of top-notch “art pop” that upends conventional wisdom about the enduring value of such compositions. There’s nothing about his work that smacks of the disposable. Instead, Hourstone’s songs aim for posterity in a way that few other performers and writers in his area can claim. They likewise do so without lapsing into self-indulgence and pretentiousness. “My Sorceress”, despite its unusual changes, will connect with a wide swath of listeners and holds up under repeated listening.
You will definitely want to hear it again and again. It’s arguably unlikely that you can fully process the experience this song provides with a single listen and that’s okay because “My Sorceress” is a “grower”. Each successive pass will reveal more of the song’s treasures, but there are certain aspects of the composition and performance that announce themselves from the outset.
Hourstone’s singing will captivate all but the hardest of hearts. He doesn’t rage, soar, or wail, but nevertheless pours a wealth of emotion into his vocal. It encapsulates wonder, longing, and affection, often suggesting all three within the same line, and provides an ideal vocal accompaniment for the song’s instrumentation.
The drumming provides a thunderous foundation appropriate for the track despite the echo-laden effects Hourstone chooses to apply to its sound. It works in close concert with the ever-present piano and keyboards/synths adding flashes of color throughout the piece. Taken as a whole, the instrumentation for this song is rather sparse, but the production enhances these rather rudimentary elements into something far greater.
Hourstone’s singing hews close to the piano melodies without ever slavishly mimicking them. He rarely traverses far with his vocal range with this song and the moments when both his voice and the piano playing explore higher registers are among the most affecting moments during the track. It’s difficult to imagine this song in a live setting, it’s fair to say that Hourstone’s music is a studio creation, but that’s not a slight.
It is a reflection of its theatrical impulses. It isn’t difficult, as well, imagining this song as part of a larger work while likewise being able to stand on its own. In a sense, it is self-consciously a part of a larger scheme as virtually all of Hourstone’s output thus far has inter-connected vibes that are impossible to ignore.
Take this all in with your first listen and then keep going. It will take passing through the song several times before you have a firm grasp of everything it has to offer. Hourstone has dedicated himself to creating weighty material that nonetheless has decidedly strong entertainment properties and this is no exception. “My Sorceress” has elements of a love song present as well, certainly Hourstone style, but a love song nonetheless. Few songs you’ll hear in 2024 manage to be so many things to so many listeners, but he pulls it off.