One of the most important things I learned in my high school writing class, other than finding Catcher in the Rye to be an uninteresting book, was the terribly cliché phrase: write what you know. When I approached my teacher and bemoaned my writer’s block, he uttered those three words.
But I’m only 16, I haven’t done anything! I protested.
You’ve probably done more than you think, my teacher said. Plus it will come from an honest place which taps into emotions your reader will identify with. If you write from that honest place, a good story will just come out of nothing.
Honest emotion and connection with an audience is a recipe for success, it is a recipe that Dead Fingers is cooking with, and it remains to be seen how it turns out. The marriage of Taylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor planted the seed for the two collaborating on an album and like a good story, the band Dead Fingers just happened. It was born out of two people who loved each other and didn’t want to be apart when one or the other was on tour – Hollingsworth with Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band and Kate Taylor with her sister, Maria Taylor. That sentiment was the impetus for the second track “Another Planet,” about the feeling of trying to stay connected to someone while on the road; you might as well be calling from Jupiter for all the good it does and how far away you are.
Their debut album is rife with candid narrative and character, from remembering family in “4 Stone Coaches” to the plight of the townie in “Hold On To.” Each story is told through Hollingsworth twangy and gravelly tenor as well as Taylor’s soft sweet vocals. When the two meet in a duet, the combination is intoxicating. The music behind the vocals keeps the listening experience addictive; the Dixie folk-country sound the two have cultivated is catchy and gets better with each listen, and Hollingsworth has a knack for hitting a cavalcade of rhymes with precise timing. It is just a fun album to listen to.
I don’t know if Dead Fingers will be “the next big thing.” Guy-girl bands are in right now, but this is a venture born out of organic need rather than trying to cash in. Hollingsworth’s vocals tend to be a little too “whiskey-soaked Dylan” in places for their debut to be palatable fare for mainstream consumption but the album is genuine and the songs are pure. This couple from Alabama deserves a loyal and wide fan base, if for no other reason than that they can traverse other planets together.
Hopefully it will help them to continue to write honest songs in the future.