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Liz Kennedy’s “Hike Up Your Socks”

A piano and an acoustic guitar exchange instrumental pleasantries at the onset of Liz Kennedy’s “Hike Up Your Socks” as though they’re holding some divine conversation that the critically acclaimed singer and songwriter will attempt to translate in the next four and a half minutes of play. The strings strut against a lively percussion and emit a swagger that is infectious to say the least, and even if you wanted to, trying to escape the harmonic drawl of Kennedy’s endearing vocal is next to impossible once it enters focus in this all-new single. “Hike Up Your Socks” is a tribute to community, but moreover, it’s an interesting exercise in multilayered songcraft that stops short of devolving into straight-up avant-garde nattering of a nuanced acoustic variety.

In the video for the song, we wander San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood with Liz Kennedy, who knows its identity and community features better than most. We’re awash with the energy of the city, the pulse of the people who call it home, and though separated by the limitations of a screen, there’s never a moment where we feel as though we’re merely listening to descriptions of a sunny afternoon spent in the sea air; Kennedy literally does everything in her power to take us there with her voice, and furthermore, the passionate poeticism that it brings to the table in “Hike Up Your Socks.” The music is always the real star of the show in this video, but the visuals are a captivating element in their own right, without dispute.

The keys don’t get as much love in the master mix as the vocal and the acrylic little percussive parts do, but I can see why the song was structured in this rather experimental, minimalist fashion. The conservative harmonies that the piano turns out are crucial in yielding all of the emotion in the buildup to the chorus, and with the release of the hook, all of the cathartic energy that evaded us at the start of the single comes flooding through the speakers at a rapid fire pace. It’s a climactic moment worthy of the theatre, but best of all, it doesn’t bask in the grandiosity of its own pomp; Kennedy gets right back down to business as the glitz of her big moment dies down and lets the string textures tell the rest of the story in this track.

Produced with a keen attention to detail that is awkwardly absent from the bulk of the material that I’ve reviewed in the last few months, Liz Kennedy’s “Hike Up Your Socks” is an exceptionally strong offering that features enough zest to appeal to mainstream pop fans whilst retaining an honest, anti-commercial aesthetic that will make it prime playlist material for college radio buffs in particular. Kennedy has never failed to impress us with her studio work, but she seems a lot more confident in her performance prowess in this song, to such an extent where it’s as if she’s starting a whole new chapter in her career. I’m eager to see where it takes her next, and at any rate, this latest video and single are a combo that you won’t want to miss out on this summer.

John McCall

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