Hovvdy's 'True Love' Is a Hopeful Embrace of the Present and Future

BY Chris GeePublished Sep 30, 2021

Often what makes us love a piece of music is the sense of nostalgia it can bring, the way an artist expresses love or sadness as an admiration of the past and a longing to feel those feelings once again. Austin, TX duo Hovvdy are no strangers to this, as their band is built upon hushed musings and tenderly strummed guitars while quietly pining for tiny flashes of comfort. Charlie Martin and Will Taylor would sing about fleeting sights on long drives in the country, staying up late with old friends, and living in the moments where every faded colour and swirled texture carries so much weight.
On their fourth album True Love, Hovvdy have a rejuvenated outlook – their songs are a bit more hopeful and eager to bask in the warmth of the present, as they lift their heads from the lethargic reminiscence of their previous material. The title track is full of beaming guitars, fluttering at an exhilarating pace as Martin grins in the throes of a loving relationship, one that has always been there but now is being clearly celebrated as something beautiful and pure. The song is a sequel to Martin's "Colorful," a melancholy song from Hovvdy's second album Cranberry, but this time recalling the "colorful houses" and being "tired from sleeping" as positive, happenstance perceptions of his relationship's evolution, a path in which Martin is still walking on and learning from.
Both members of Hovvdy have gotten married since their last album Heavy Lifter was released in 2019, so it's not entirely surprising that they've written from a more romantic, familial perspective. On "Hue," Taylor asks, "Am I strong enough for two? Can I love me like I love you?" in bewilderment of his new chapter in life. Later, on the dewy "Lake June," he remembers, "all in, moving backward at the wake of your first word," cementing in the overwhelming feeling of also becoming a father. Things are moving fast in Hovvdy's personal lives, but True Love cherishes their new experiences in the same special light as when they were fondly looking back at their youthful innocence.
Whereas Heavy Lifter and subsequent one-off singles "Runner" and "I'm Sorry" hinted at a more pop-centric direction from Hovvdy, True Love instead fully embraces the wistful yet hardy guitar strums and sparkling sense of rhythm that got them together in the first place. True Love feels like a return to their roots of making attentive, heartfelt music, but this time sounding bigger, cleaner, and brighter than ever before.

"Junior Day League" is draped in a vibrant glow, with crystal-clear acoustic guitars and Taylor's past shyness blossoms into an unblemished catchy melody while retaining his reposed tenderness of unwavering affection. Similarly, Martin's self-intersecting vocals on "Blindsided" still have his signature soft-spoken-ness but is enlivened by dancing pianos and a delightful reverence only hinted at in previous Hovvdy albums. The two songwriters have not missed a beat over the years and have only strengthened their ability to hold onto delicate memories and lay them down gently as is, letting each and every subtle detail shine and grow into sentimental treasures of truth and wonder.
True Love is a loving snapshot of what Hovvdy holds dear in the present and their excitement for the future is infectious. Instead of reflecting on the past and easiness of simpler times, they are finding pockets of these hyper-elated feelings in the here and now. As Taylor sings, "Memory won't let me take a picture, turn to me and tell me 'you'll remember'" on "Around Again," he reminds himself that life's grandest moments will always find their way to stay with us forever.
(Grand Jury)

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