Welcome to Playlists, a series where we turn over the reigns to artists to curate the next big playlist
Heartbreak can feel like you’re trapped under water. Sometimes, it is of your own creation ⎯⎯ but often, you are swept away in romantic idealism, and as the bottom drops out, your heart is drained dry. “You hold my heart in the depths of your eyes,” singer/songwriter Connor Duermit, hailing from North Carolina, murmurs on his new piano ballad “Never Letting Go,” which finds him discovering layers of elation amidst the savage storm of anguish pounding against his skull. His falsetto is penetrating, a steady give and take with the tickle of ivories underneath him. He maintains he’s never letting go of the marvelous glow of his memories ⎯⎯ “captivated by this feeling as I hold you close,” he coos. The tempestuous tale samples Duermit’s forthcoming debut, an EP titled To Love, in which in scavenges through the wreckage of a past relationship and relives each ghostly reminder.
Teaming up with B-Sides & Badlands, ahead of the release (date TBD), the craftsman [who linked with Third Eye Blind drummer Brad Hargreaves, Ariana Grande’s musical director Troy Laureta and Tom Coyne (Bruno Mars, Adele) for his project] has put together a companion playlist. From James Black to Frank Ocean, Ms. Lauryn Hill and Al Green, among others, the lineup is stacked with tear-jerkers and the finest, most lonesome of balladry. If you’re not stocked up on tissues, now is the time. Below, Duermit walks us through each song and its personal significance. Check it.
On his EP release, he says: “My goal with music is not to become a famous artist and get fame and money and everything that goes with that. My goal is to effect change in the world and be a positive mentor and role model to people around me as well as people I may never meet. That’s why I chose music…in the hopes that it can be the platform from which I can bring more joy and happiness into the world.”
“Ex-Factor” by Ms. Lauryn Hill
This song dates back to my early childhood. It was one of my sister’s favorite songs, and I have since adopted it. It’s such a simple and honest plea for love, and it really speaks to the heart.
“Can’t Let Go” by Anthony Hamilton
Anthony Hamilton is so good. There’s much soul in this song and such a strength in his vocal delivery. This one is for the point in the break up when you feel like you just want to fight for the relationship no matter what.
“Thinkin Bout You” by Frank Ocean
Frank is such an incredible storyteller. The subtle references in all of his songs and the way he speaks so simply about the little things in life really resonates with me. This one is a classic.
“This Ain’t The Way” by Jeremy Passion and Tori Kelly
I’m a huge Tori Kelly fan. Jeremy Passion also has an incredible voice. The two of them singing to each other about the troubles of a bad love is simply beautiful.
“How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” by Al Green
Al Green is one of the greatest in my book. You can really feel every emotion in his voice. The way he delivers his vocals and the live strings and choir in the background make this one hit home.
“Jealous” by Labrinth
This song is so beautifully written. I honestly think this might be my favorite. The simple production with just a piano and the bare vocals expose so much emotion and heartbreak. I’ve definitely shed a few tears to this one before.
“Fair-Weather Friend” by Bruno Major
I just discovered Bruno Major this year, and I absolutely love him. His voice is silky smooth, and the lyrics in this song are incredible. The last line of the chorus is like a couplet at the end of a sonnet. Love this one.
“Roses” by Outkast
This one is definitely a bit left-field, but Outkast is one of my favorite groups of all time. And this song is a great song to sing out loud in the car.
“f.o.r.e.v.e.r.” by James Blake
James Blake is also one of my favorite artists. His voice and his production are both incredible. This song really speaks to that moment when you’re not sure exactly what’s happened, but you know it doesn’t feel quite right.
“The Scientist” by Coldplay
I was such a huge Coldplay fan when I was in high school. I don’t listen to them as often now, but this song definitely got me through some tough times. They’re an incredible band and Chris Martin is a phenomenal songwriter. I really love this song.
Listen to Duermit’s “Never Letting Go” below:
Photo credit: Joey Martinez