Before he started making music as a solo artist, stargazing L.A. singer and producer John Errol was a keyboardist with the doomy alt-folk band Starred. Following a pop-leaning debut under his own name last year, his new single “Dead Man Walking” is a haunted-feeling ballad, with country-leaning guitar fingerpicking which reminds me a little of Cat Power’s “Cross Bones Style,” as well as swathes of shoegazey textures. Errol sings eerily, in hushed vocal tones, “Another dead man walking / Another one I’ll never save.” In its final third, the song accelerates into throbbing industrial dissonance before fading into sludgey, pitched-down textures, as if collapsing under the weight of its own gravity.
Over email, John Errol explained to The FADER: “‘Dead Man Walking’ is a study on spectatorship and how a person can become desensitized in the process. To mimic this, I wanted to build a soundscape that constantly zooms in, beginning as the observer and kind of ending up as the observed.
“Lyrically, the song is a sum of the encounters I had living in New York where it's obviously easier to look away from certain things. It would be naive of me to say that the song posits some kind of answer or solution, as people are inclined to put up their blinders from a place of helplessness, fatalism, or whatever. But what I am certain of is that, sure, you can go about the world pretending like it's not on fire. Sooner or later, holes will burn through.”
Listen to “Dead Man Walking” below: