“Fleet Foxes for people who bale hay,” is what they call themselves… but current Nashville denizens Creature Comfort are a bit more approachable and likeable than the overwhelmingly precious indie darlings they compare themselves to. Their new single “Big, Buff and Handsome” is downright cuddly Americana pop song, in fact. Hand-clappy and swing-happy, it’s immediate and charming, one of those songs that catches your ear the first time you hear it and gives you pause. Add a banjo like Creature Comfort does and it’s damn skippy.
“I was on an early morning flight and I got to watch the sunrise coming up over the clouds,” says vocalist/guitarist Jessey Clark about his memory of the origin of the song. “I really wanted to sleep but the light was too bright, so I decided I’d try my hand at writing a song instead.”
Even though it seemed like a toss off, a song written for the sake of writing a song, “Big, Buff and Handsome” is anything but. On the surface, it’s effortless and breezy, feeling like Dawes with a heavy dose of uppers. But when you dig deeper, you uncover the glorious interplay between Clark’s good-guy vocals and Alex Robinson’s plucky banjo picking that transports the track higher than most Americana-based indie rock, flying dangerously close to hallowed mid-era My Morning Jacket territory. It is the first taste of the new album, Home Team, which will drop on Oct. 30.
It’s no wonder then that his inspirations follow a similar, darker side path away from the Main Street of songwriting. “I admire many songwriters, but it’s hard to narrow it down to just one,” he admits. “Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse is where I draw so much of my lyrical inspiration from. I like his clever wordplay and ability to change intensity very quickly. Conor Oberst is also a big one for me because of the emotion behind his voice, coupled with some very illustrative and descriptive lyrics. And lastly, Andrew Bird. His ability to weave melodies between the chords is smooth and refreshing.”
Correspondingly, the lyrical path “Big, Buff and Handsome” takes isn’t a straight shot down the expressway. While the phrase “big, buff and handsome” can evoke romance novel cover-esque images of a windswept Fabio with an inconveniently unbuttoned blouse, Creature Comfort opts to apply the descriptive as a shield or façade, used to hide the damage and insecurity that most Adonis-gifted strongmen hide beneath their brawn.
Clark sings, “Well he’s trimming on the hedges and pulling on the weeds / He has a sip of whiskey and gets lost in the trees,” positioning his beefcake as a landscaper oblivious to his surroundings, just mowing his way through life… but once the shirt goes back on and the admirers close their blinds, he retreats back to the unsavory and shallow person that he really is, where he “walks along for several hours / Spits on all the people that you pass.”
“The song is really about the hypocrisy of man and our failed intentions,” says Clark, shifting the focus from the song’s narrative to his own. “In my own personal experience, I always know what the right or good choice is, but that isn’t always the choice I end up making.”
“This song was me reflecting on the party lifestyle that those around me and myself were living at the time,” he continues, “I had intentions of saving money, going to bed early, not being hungover the next day, but that wasn’t my reality, no matter how much I wanted it to be.” But like the breezy and carefree music his message ambles on, Clark isn’t a dour fella. He’s much more forgiving and assured. And if the infectious handclaps are any indication, he balances it all with an optimistic smirk. “We’re all human and mess up sometimes,” he concludes.” Nobody’s perfect, but we should learn from those mistakes and realize how much even the smallest choices can affect our lives.”