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Press Play At Home: Conan Gray Highlights The Painful Past Of "Family Line" With An Affecting Acoustic Performance
Watch Conan Gray strip down his new song "Family Line," a track from his album 'Superache' that traces his pain back to the source: a turbulent childhood.
In order to take control of your future, you have to come to terms with your past — and that's the message behind "Family Line," the powerful fulcrum of Conan Gray's newest album, Superache.
The song finds the pop singer/songwriter tracing his roots and personality traits back to their source: A turbulent childhood. Each line lays out some aspect of childhood trauma in stark, unsparing detail, and the song's chorus traces back all his faults and attributes to something in his mother or father.
In this episode of Press Play at Home, Gray gives the song an acoustic treatment, strumming his guitar along to the emotional lyrics as he sits in an empty room. The barren white-walled performance space helps keep the focus on the song's cutting lyrics and excavation of the past.
"How could you hurt a little kid?/ I can't forget, I can't forgive you/ 'Cause now I'm scared that everyone I love will leave me," Gray sings in one particularly hard-hitting verse, directed toward a father who is troubled, abusive and often absent.
It's unclear exactly how autobiographical the song is, but as he explained to GRAMMY.com in June, being honest and vulnerable results in the best songwriting. "The only way you can really connect with people is by telling them a human experience," he said.
"Family Line" comes off Gray's second studio album, Superache, a collection of personal and intimately crafted tracks also featuring singles such as "Yours" and "Memories." After sharing the story of his teen years on his 2020 debut, Kid Krow, Gray called the Superache creation process "an experience of scraping my ribs of any last information that I had to say."
Press play above to watch Gray's powerful and intimate "Family Line" performances, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more episodes of Press Play at Home.
Press Play At Home: Watch Dodie Perform A Morning-After Version Of "Four Tequilas Down"
In the latest episode of Press Play At Home, singer/songwriter dodie conjures a bleary last call in a hushed performance of "Four Tequilas Down"
"Four Tequilas Down" is as much a song as it is a memory—a half-remembered one. "Did you make your eyes blur?/So that in the dark, I'd look like her?" dodie, the song's writer and performer, asks. To almost anyone who's engaged in a buzzed rebound, that detail alone should elicit a wince of recognition.
Such is dodie's beyond-her-years mastery of her craft: Over a simple, spare chord progression, she can use an economy of words to twist the knife. "So just hold me like you mean it," dodie sings at the song's end. "We'll pretend because we need it."
In the latest episode of Press Play At Home, watch dodie stretch her songwriting muscles while conjuring a chemically altered Saturday night—and the Sunday morning full of regrets, too.
Check out dodie's hushed-yet-intense performance of "Four Tequilas Down" above and click here to enjoy more episodes of Press Play At Home.
Photo: Courtesy of Marcus King
Press Play At Home: Marcus King Delivers Blazing, Bluesy "Pain" In A Parking Garage Jam Session
Marcus King pays tribute to his favorite classic rock trios in this soulful performance, which features a '70s flair, a whiplash-inducing guitar solo and a pair of classic cars as a backdrop.
Rising rock singer Marcus King may only be in his 20s, but when it comes to his taste in music, he's an old soul. He learned his first musical lessons from his blues-rocker dad, and he cites his earliest memory as the time he opened up his dad's guitar case as a child and strummed the strings of an Epiphone El Dorado.
Now, as a singer/songwriter and guitarist himself, King expertly blends his classic rock and blues inspirations into his original music — most recently on his upcoming album, Young Blood, due Aug. 26. The project was produced by Dan Auerbach, who King also teamed with to write "Pain," a bluesy and fast-paced rock track that puts the singer's classic influences front and center.
In this episode of Press Play At Home, King and his three-piece band head to a parking garage for a grungy, searing performance of the track. From classic cars in the background to the outfits and visual aesthetics, vintage vibes are abundant — but it's the music itself that truly embodies the spirit of '70s rock.
"Pain" is just one example of the "classic power trio" sound that King strived for with Young Blood. He drew inspiration from musical idols like ZZ Top, Grand Funk Railroad and Black Sabbath, as well as his favorite films GoodFellas and Raging Bull. "We tried to make the music feel big," King explains in a press release, "like you’re seeing it in a theater."
Though the music takes plenty of cues from legendary acts from the past, King's blend of soul, rock, blues and country is uniquely his own. The GRAMMY nominee’s unmistakable raspy tenor crests over the instrumental lines and puts the singer/songwriter's signature stamp on the performance.
Press play on the video above to watch King's blistering performance of "Pain," and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more episodes of Press Play At Home.
Press Play At Home: Francisca Valenzuela Performs Her Courageous Feminist Paean "La Fortaleza"
The outspoken Chilean singer/songwriter Francisca Valenzuela sings of womanhood and will to power
For Francisca Valenzuela, feminism isn't a radical notion, but a self-evident truth. The daughter of two renowned Chilean scientists, she's published muscular, experiential poetry (like her 2000 book, Defenseless Waters, which she published in her early teens) and founded Ruidosa, a festival, platform and community that elevates female voices.
In this episode of Press Play At Home, Valenzuela sings "La Fortaleza," which contains her worldview in microcosm. "Everything that has happened has led me to today," she sings in Spanish. "I look ahead to the horizon and I bury the guilt and leave/I pack a suitcase, take a deep breath and don't look back/Setting sun, rising sun will accompany me."
Check out Francisca Valenzuela's riveting performance of "La Fortaleza" above, and watch other episodes of Press Play At Home.
Photo: Courtesy of Luke Sital-Singh
Press Play At Home: Luke Sital-Singh Strips Back "Call Me When You Land" For A Haunting, Cathartic Performance
Folk singer/songwriter Luke Sital-Singh delivers a chilling, in-studio rendition of "Call Me When You Land," his fan-favorite 2020 collaboration with Old Sea Brigade.
Emotional catharsis has been a favorite piece of Luke Sital-Singh's musical toolkit since the start of his career. Ever since his 2014 full-length studio debut, The Fire Inside, the London-born balladeer has gained a name for himself as a chilling performer, bolstered by his high vocal range and intimate lyrics.
Nowhere are those skills more exemplified than in "Call Me When You Land," a meditation on love and loneliness from Sital-Singh's 2020 EP All the Ways You Sing in the Dark, a collaborative effort with Old Sea Brigade. In this episode of Press Play at Home, Sital-Singh offers a stripped-down, solo performance of the fan-favorite track, putting a spotlight on his vocals and the song's longing message.
Sital-Singh sits in the studio for his performance of the ballad, surrounded by his gear and strumming his electric guitar. From the warm, subtle vibrato of the song's early verses to the effortless falsetto of the chorus, "Call Me When You Land" emanates the loneliness of missing someone — and counting down the minutes until you can hear their voice again, even if it's only on the other end of a phone line.
While his performance of the song feels deeply introspective and self-contained, Sital-Singh has actually unlocked potent new musical directions by working with other artists. In "Call Me When You Land" and the rest of his All the Ways You Sing in the Dark EP, Sital-Singh found collaboration to be a deeply gratifying, productive format.
So much so, in fact, that he's continued to work with musical partners on subsequent projects. Sital-Singh's latest album, 2022's Dressing Like a Stranger, finds him working with a new collaborator, Dan Croll.
Old Sea Brigade's Ben Cramer remains in the picture, too: The pair teamed up for album track "Can't Get High," and they're on tour together this fall.
Press play on the video above to watch Sital-Singh's intimate performance of "Call Me When You Land," and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more episodes of Press Play at Home.