In an unprecedented era of human history clad with groundbreaking new technologies and previously-unimaginable interconnection via the internet, there’s an amazing fascination with something quite old: nostalgia.
In recent years, this societal love affair with a hazy, romantic version of the past has manifested in the rise of genres like hauntology and hypnagogic pop, both of which draw inspiration from ‘80s and ‘90s pop culture. Through exploring those collective memories—regardless of how reliable they are in terms of what those time periods were actually like—the artists in this realm reveal a certain beauty about the modern world and how rapidly it’s changing.
But beyond these scenes, there are all sorts of artists exploring all sorts of genres, traditions, sounds and styles that have become relics of the past, breathing new life into them. One of the more popular strains of this movement is the modern rockabilly scene—in part kick-started by the Stray Cats-led revival of the ‘80s. Nowadays, you have some retro rock ‘n’ roll artists who are traditionalists, like Veronica Lewis, and others who reimagine the style with a distinctively modern, punk-y twist, like Vince Ray & The Boneshakers. Right in the middle of that is singer-songwriter Seth Kessel, who just put out a new single, “A Couple In Love,” showing off his old-meets-new sensibilities.
Dropping on May 28 ahead of his upcoming record Ride on Through (out June 25), “A Couple In Love” is the product of Kessel’s appreciation for acts like Elvis Presley, Howlin’ Wolf, Johnny Cash, The Clash and more.
“I wrote this song with 1950’s imagery in mind, but mixed in modern lyrics and set it in a big city,” he told American Songwriter. “I thought that would give it the edge it needed to compliment a fun track. Stylistically, I have one foot in the past—whether it’s rock ‘n’ roll, country or jazz—and the other in the present. It’s a familiar-but-new feeling with my music. The song is about a rebellious couple who do it their own way; a couple in love and in love with rock ‘n’ roll.”
Kessel really does have a knack for capturing the rip-roaring energy of the early rock ‘n’ roll days. With a scorching guitar solo and an impassioned vocal performance—complete with Hank Williams-esque voice cracks and soulful runs—he embodies the period’s zeitgeist, both in his music and in his life. While the legends of that era might be gone, folks like Kessel keep that zeitgeist alive and well.
“The music I create is a lot like life,” Kessel said. “Fun, fast-paced and hopefully on the right side of love. Some days are painful and slow. Live your truth. Love hard, drive fast and don’t get a dead-end job.”
Seth Kessel’s new single “A Couple In Love” is out now and available everywhere. Watch the music video for it below: