There’s a line in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in which the washed-up character Brick tells his father, “I’m takin’ a little short trip to Echo Spring.” The spring in Williams’ alcohol-soaked, Pulitzer Prize-winning play is a euphemism for the drunken stupor to which Brick hopes to escape. Lindsay Hightower can relate. She wasn’t longing for an escape to a spring (literal or metaphorical), but the Fort Worth singer-songwriter found a lot to relate to in Williams’ prose.
Hightower, writing the music that would become her eponymous band’s first album, drew inspiration from stories about Williams and other troubled writers. She was going through the wringer back when she wrote the first record in 2016 – therapy, a big move from Los Angeles to Fort Worth, her newborn son – and these struggles were all heavy on her mind.
“I stayed with my parents for a little bit,” she recalled. “As I sat in my childhood bedroom, pondering all of these things, memories good and bad came flowing back.”
Echo Spring is a moody pop output that showcased Hightower’s voice with lyrics that luxuriated in melancholy music. After that, Hightower (the band and the singer) was ready to have fun again. The band’s follow-up, Night, released in April, is a three-song departure for a group that features new members and a new approach.
“It took a few tries and a few musicians to find the right people,” Hightower said. “But I think this is it.”
The lead vocalist is joined by guitarist Doug Baxter, drummer Paul Davis, and bassist Jacob Martinez, the last of whom is a friend of Lindsay Hightower’s from their time in Los Angeles. Martinez helped the singer-songwriter develop what she calls a Texi-Cali sound for Night.
“Jacob and I are both kooky,” she said. “We both like cult-classic slasher horror movies, and he’s introduced me to some great Italian cinema, some Tom Waits, and some other music that has really influenced me.”
The biggest influence for Night was Quentin Tarantino. The singer and bassist wanted to capture the kind of music you might find populating one of the filmmaker’s meticulously crafted soundtracks.
“Sometimes random bands will pop up in his movies, and they’ll have this really unique surf or pop sound,” Hightower said. “We wanted to be one of the bands you might see pop up like that, so we wrote from that.”
The lyrics on Night show traces of the dark sonics the quartet displayed on Echo Spring, but as the lead singer admits, the music is more fun and upbeat. Opener “Nobody’s Fool” is the tune most sonically compatible with a Tarantino flick. It finds the singer lamenting a lover while a surf-vibe fills the background. It feels like a bridge between Echo Spring and the new EP – the singer’s sadness is tangible, but as she insists she is not to be fooled, the band backs her with a poppy sound, almost as if they are encouraging her to get out of her funk.
“As We All Fall” finds Hightower trusting her bandmates to shine, too, as the song makes time for a pair of solid solos. “Fine Line,” the EP’s finale, might be the most radio-ready song on the record. It too includes ample soloing.
It might not quite fit the Tarantino vibe, but the sultry, dark tune feels like a fully realized version of the ambitious pop the band set out to craft. It’s much more fun than anything else Hightower has done.
“We were moving on with this one,” Hightower said of Night. “We’ve found a lot more freedom with this.”