Returning with their first new offering since 2019, the Hot Place’s latest single, “Hell, Highwater, or Sunlight” is a supernatural blues number steeped in the dark and folkloric imagery of a metaphorical wild hunt.

The song features David J of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets playing harmonica, illustrating an abstract tale that’s a bit spookier than any of the Hot Place’s previous releases. “Hell, Highwater, or Sunlight” was, however, unveiled on Halloween night, just in time for Samhain to kick off November’s enchanted witching season.

Singer and bass player Lisa King wrote the lyrics for the song in the midst of a sudden and tumultuous thunderstorm that swept over the city on a night before David J was playing a show at Little Tree Art Studios in June of 2017. King recalls the evening: “I was at Leon’s Full Service in Decatur, and the trees were hitting the window in a really spooky way, like skeletons. The moon was out, clouds were moving by fast in the sky. I started writing lyrics to this blues song we had, and I imagined being in the woods.”

David J at Electron Gardens Studio. Photo by Lisa King.

Guitarists Mike Lynn and Jeff Calder flesh out the spectral sound that expands upon the Hot Place’s shadowy psychedelia and spare, alternative rock stylings with the mystical essence of mythology and metaphor. King’s lyrical mysticism drives the eerie folk ballad like a storm swell over Calder’s atmospheric mandolin and Robert Schmid’s drums.

As the story goes, David heard the song at Lisa’s house the night before playing the gig at Little Tree Arts Studios, and immediately envisioned the song’s harmonica part. 

“I love this track, dripping in swampy mojo vibes, full of the night, storms, and yearning ghosts,” David says.

The following afternoon, his harmonica was recorded in a single take at Electron Gardens Studio.

“There’s a call and response between the vocal and David’s harmonica,” King says. “In a way, they become the two characters in the song’s narrative.”

“Hell, Highwater, or Sunlight” is set to appear on an upcoming 10-song LP that’s being partially mixed by Ed Stasium, who has worked with everyone from the Ramones, the Pretenders, Talking Heads, and Mick Jagger to Atlanta’s new wave luminaries the Swimming Pool Q’s. 

Stasium mixed three of the album’s songs. The other seven, including “Hell, Highwater, or Sunlight” were mixed by Steven Morrison of Madlife Stage and Studio.

The album was trapped in limbo for more than a year-and-a-half, as no one could get into a studio to finish Schmid’s drum parts during the COVID-19 lockdown. Ultimately, the group wrapped up the single at West End Sound with Tom Tapley (Mastodon, West End Motel, Blackberry Smoke).

The title of the new album remains to be determined, but it’ set to arrive in 2022 via King’s self-run label No Big Wheel Records.

The Hot Place: Mike Lynn (from left), Lisa King, and Jeff Calder. Photo by Frank French.

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