True Giant has today premiered their new single titled ‘Tears Keep Coming’, releasing this Friday, from their new album ‘Nervous Holiday’. Oh to be a sucker for a country ballad. ‘Tears Keep Coming’ is a surprising new lo-fi country tune by True Giant. Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, and now residing in Chicago, Illinois, True Giant is singer/songwriter Garret Santora’s fully DIY recording and soon-to-be touring project.
In True Giant’s first single off their debut album Nervous Holiday, “Tears Keep Coming” blends punk rock roots with alternative, country, blues, and folk storytelling. Inspired by John Prine’s death, Santora wrote this song during the pandemic lockdown. With Santora on lead vocals, instrumentation, and production, and backed by Jack Foster (Sarah Shook and The Disarmers) on the drums, and the vocal harmonies of singer/songwriter Josh King (House of Fools) and Chrissy Yengle, True Giant pays homage to the late great Prine, stylistically and melodically.
“Tears Keep Coming” starts slow, almost delicately. Just Santora, a rich acoustic guitar, and an almost hesitant twangy voice. Santora’s detail and evocative language really lend themselves to good storytelling as he references specific people and places– Franklin Street, the whistling mailman who doesn’t whistle anymore (if he did it wouldn’t be a country song), and the bolted-up stores in town paint a picture of a place lost to time.
When that first refrain hits and Yengle’s vocal harmonies join Santora as they sing, /and the tears keep comin’/ that’s when the frisson kicks in. If you’re one of the lucky music listeners that feels that tingle in your brain, the one you feel when Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons sing together, well…look for it when Yengle and Santora hit those classic country duet harmonies.
Over halfway through the track that DIY ethos really starts to hit home as almost shoegazy guitars, fully drenched in reverb kick in for a musical interlude. Washed-out strings accompany the outro as the nostalgic lyrics hit their peak /If I make a tin can telephone/ would you talk to me as if we hadn’t grown/and there’s nothing that still means something/.
“These songs are about love and death and the shedding of a past self. It’s about the world at large and the minutiae of the human condition,” says Santora. Recorded “with a dog on the floor, a cat on the desk, and the windows open” the stripped-down recording methods add legitimacy to the country genre in a way that brings it back to its roots.
“Tears Keep Coming” was recorded and mixed by Jason Beeson in the last session held at LGTBZ Studio in Greensboro, North Carolina. Now in pre-production for the follow-up album and singles, True Giant plans to perform the songs of Nervous Holiday live in the Midwest and southeast throughout the year.
Where does the name “True Giant” come from?
There was a Scottish man that lived in the 19th century named Angus MacAskill that was described by the Guiness Book of World Records “as the largest true giant in recorded history”. I think a small part of all of us wishes to be a giant.
You mentioned that “Tears Keep Coming” was inspired by a phone call you had with a friend about the death of songwriter John Prine. How much does Prine’s music mean to you?
I can’t say that John Prine’s music means more to me than the next fan as I don’t think Prine had or has many middle of the road fans. People are either big fans or not concerned with him. In other words, they don’t get it. In my case, I was made familiar with his music from my old man, and from then on, I always felt as if Prine was our strange uncle that worked at the circus or something, so he was never around. I grew up close to where Prine did, so I always had this feeling that he was ours, from our side of town. His songs have a bizarre reach. Truly one of a kind.
As straight-forward as the song is, it has a lot of layers. Can you describe how you arranged “Tears Keep Coming”?
I wanted to make it sound like a folk song from the 70s but that had tin pan alley strings and a twangy guitar, but the best I could do was play the mellotron and borrow a stratocaster. The song naturally requested that a lady with a wonderful voice would sing on it. And that lady is Chrissy Yengle of Greensboro, North Carolina. But basically that song was cut as a live take, acoustic guitar and vocals, and the rest was overdubbed as the ideas came. It was all pretty organic.
What bands/artists would you cite as musical influences?
Sonvolt, John Prine, Bob Dylan, Teenage Fanclub, the Everly Brothers, Raymond Carver.
Any specific plans for the rest of 2023?
Just trying to remember how it feels to play live music regularly again. I’ve had a slow return to it since this Pandemic business started.