has shared a solo acoustic performance of his song “Hang On, Hang On,” premiering exclusively here at Paste. The track is off his latest album My New Moon, out now through Dualtone. This new version is part of a series of videos featuring Lee performing standouts from the album in a stripped-down acoustic setting.
“Hang On, Hang On” is a song about memory and loss. Written after the death of Lee’s grandmother, the track focuses on their last night spent together. The studio version finds comfort in the presence of other voices, with a backing choir coming in to support Lee at crucial moments throughout. But in this version, the focus is on Lee’s dialogue with his grandmother. There’s no distractions, no accompaniments and no hiding from the fact that the conversation has become a one-sided affair. The heartbreak is more immediate, but so is Lee’s resilience in the face of it.
“This was the hardest song on the album for me to sing,” Lee recalls. “Sometimes when you’re recording, and you really want to give a performance everything you have, it takes singing it over and over, and singing this literally caused me to be emotionally drained, and made me sick. I had to take two weeks off after we cut this, but I love how it turned out.”
“I really love what Jaron Olevsky and Ethan Gruska team up to do on the piano and OP-1 [synthesizer],” Lee adds. “Incredible melodies. Those two players are so sensitive and soulful. I love how they play off of each other.”
Watch “Hang On, Hang On” below and check out Paste archival footage of Lee’s performance at the 2011 Newport Folk Festival further down.