Who hasn’t said themselves at one point or another, “There simply aren’t enough hours in the day!”? Such frustrated musings are all too common a dynamic in today’s non-stop, 24/7, 365 society which prides itself on hustles, side-hustles, and always planning one’s next move. Without a doubt sentiments like these have merit and a very worthwhile place and time when a sense of urgency is needed or a fixed goal is on the horizon. But at what point do we as a society give ourselves permission to embrace the saying on the other side of the same coin: “Stop and smell the roses.”?
Amanda Broadway of The Amanda Broadway Band recently found herself pondering the same line of thinking and the result is the Nashville, TN band’s newest single, “The Slow Down.”
The Amanda Broadway Band is:
Amanda Broadway (Vocals)
Shane Lamb (Guitar)
Kent Toalson (Keys)
Max McKee (Bass)
Nate Felty (Drums)
Mikie Martel (Trumpet)
Ryan Latham (Sax)
Amber Woodhouse (Vocals)
Maureen Murphy (Vocals)
As a professional working musician in one of the world’s most famous music metropolises, Broadway is no stranger to the uncompromising gravity that comes with being a part of both the local music community and the broader music industry at large. The urge to constantly be busy, to constantly be five steps ahead of of whatever is happening right now, is practically built into the hallowed ground of Music Row’s asphalt. Still, as Broadway explains, the genesis of the “The Slow Down” formed in the wake of the pandemic’s lockdown and all of its necessitated stops to the familiar speeding tempo of everyday life.
“I’m all for working hard, but not to the point of burnout. I can’t and don’t want to live that way anymore. After the pandemic forced us to Slow Down, I realized just how unhappy I was with the way I had been running through life,” Broadway says.“While the shut down was obviously devastating in so many ways, my body, mind and spirit also felt relieved to get a break. I’ve been trying to find balance now that we’re back to the grind. And in this day and age, it can feel impossible. I know so many people who are worn out right now, myself included. Giving myself permission to go at my own pace. Hope this song can help inspire others to do the same.”
Musically, as one might imagine, “The Slow Down” unfolds at a leisurely pace. Written in 3/4 but not pushing anything near the net and hustled tempo needed for a proper waltz, the almost four and a half minute song instead exudes an energy that feels much closer to a gently rocking ballad than anything else. Several counts of silent resting space sit between the initial soft cymbal roll, pattern of four rim shots and the single, snapping snare drum hits that fill the song’s opening few seconds. From there, the smooth and silky tone of the Rhodes keys that begin to set up the song’s primary descending motif play against minimal, almost muted plucks of guitar notes that attempt to ascend but after every couple of notes, find themselves in a way, abruptly put to a “stop,” as the third beat is replaced by a snare hit. For such a subtle moment in such a spread out song, it’s a nice node to setting the emotional and mental tone of the track’s message, which is to devote just this little bit of time to not hurrying off, not trying to race to the top, to the end, or wherever the next marker is. The focus just for the moment, is to bring down the intensity – not raise it up – and this makes for a clever reminder – as brief and nuanced as it is.
Stepping back from the song’s finer details, the lyrics and Broadway’s delivery thereof, are the central driver of the music’s impact. And for her part in it, Broadway pulls no punches around really emphasizing the feeling of each and every note and enunciating each and every word.
I been running life like it’s a race
And letting other people set the pace
Rushing from one thing to the next
With no time to look back and reflect
And I’m tired of being so damn tired
Of feeling spread thin and scattered
No I can’t sustain this day to day
I’m ready to learn a new way
So I’m welcoming the slow down
– Lyrics from “The Slow Down”
While this approach, combined with the song’s undeniably non-radio standard run time might seem like an invitation for listener restlessness, the ratio of lyrics to the amount of time gone by, never seems to be too at odds with itself. The band finds just the right moments – balancing and alternating between vocals and instrumental excerpts of the melody; beginnings, middles, and ends of lyrical phrases – that it’s incredibly easy to lay back and let the song run its course and validate the idea of slowing down. There’s a lot going on in the collective arrangement, which keeps the music and the listener from feeling uncertain. However, no one is fighting for space to be heard and the song’s overall arrangement is open enough that a person can easily follow and thoroughly appreciate each piece of the band and backing vocals without feeling overwhelmed or too left behind, should a particularly warm note by the trumpet or especially satisfying moment of harmonizing by Broadway, Murphy, and Woodhouse prompt their own extra moments of enjoyment and reflection.
Tied all together with the Amanda Broadway Band’s signature affinity for a classic, vintage production style of warmer tonality, intimate micing, and a general sense of sonic snugness without loss of clarity, “The Slow Down” emulates a sonic aesthetic found on records of mid 20th century soul, R&B and blues. Ultimately, all of “The Slow Down’s” elements work together to present the song as something effortlessly timeless, even as the moment in history the track was born from, is entirely specific to 2020. Though this aspect of the song’s inspiration will never be forgotten for Amanda Broadway, hopefully beyond hope, it’s not an experience anyone in this lifetime will have to relive again and instead, this song can simply be an ongoing reminder to enjoy the important things in life.
Stay connected with The Amanda Broadway Band through its official website and these social media platforms:
Editors Note: A previous version of this piece inaccurately referenced lyrics from “The Slow Down.” The excerpted passage has been replaced with the correct words.