David Wimbish, the lead singer of North Carolina’s seven-piece alt-pop outfit, The Collection, writes sad songs that feel happy. Their new single, “Blue Day,” is no different. Premiering today, the raw track evokes a sense of serenity with lofty vocals that eloquently deliver a timely reminder of kindness.
The Collection began as Wimbish’s solo project. With the deep-rooted North Carolina music community’s support, the project quickly evolved into a full-bodied performance group. Their songs stem from an awareness of their state’s folk roots and an appreciation of orchestral and world music.
The Collection’s first full-length, Ars Moriendi, set the tone, featuring 25 musicians throughout the album. The 13-track record grapples with questions of mortality and spirituality following their collective loss of friends and family. Two more releases mark the space between—2017’s Listen to the River and their most recent Entropy just a year later.
Just as The Collection began work on their fourth project, the pandemic entered, shifting the winds of their creative momentum. 2019 brought a consistent calendar of live performances, firming up the feel of their live shows.
“A lot of writing was coming out from physically being together, feeling the energy of having seven people on stage, which is really high,” says Wimbish. “Our songs began to fit into the category of what feels good on stage, echoing what we felt in our bodies.”
When the pandemic took the world by storm, it forcefully shifted The Collective’s focus. With band members spread across the state, writing from this intertwining energy was no longer an option. The songwriting approach became less about evoking a live performance and more about cutting through distance with music created for recording, reaching people where they are during this moment.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about music that had influenced me when I was younger, fifteen or sixteen,” Wimbish explains. “So I wanted to make a record that during hard times, like these, seem like they were intended to be kind.”
Sitting on his porch one day, the lyrics spilled out in what the songwriter describes as a “rare event.” Over ten minutes, Wimbish composed a stripped-down song that matches the band’s melody-driven musical approach.
Wimbish and the band worked within the confines of COVID-19 recording set-up with producer Stephen Price (Charlie Hunter, Chad Lawson) at his High Point, North Carolina studio. With the help of Hayden Cooke’s bass guitar, Sarah McCoy’s keys, and their combined effort with harmony and vocals, “Blue Day” taps into the complexity of human emotion.
“I had just moved onto this beautiful piece of property around nature and cows, I had a supportive partner, the band was making progress—so much of life was going the way I wanted,” he explains. “But I would still wake up some days and feel totally tanked and not myself. Even if things are going well, you sometimes still can’t tap into the joy.”
The lyrics detail this conundrum throughout a gentle soundscape. It ain’t too different / It’s a really skinny line / Between feeling distant and feeling so sublime, Wimbish sings with melancholic jubilee.
“I want people to feel the freedom to be kind to themselves,” Wimbish describes of his intentions. “I’ve heard so many people saying ‘I don’t want to be watching so much TV’ or ‘this is not the optimal me.’ I’m trying to remind them and myself, going through the worst year in decades, give yourself a break.”