“He Won’t Knock” is a Solid Bid for Ezra Vine as this Generation’s Lyrical Poet
Raised on his parents’ impressive record collection and playing guitar since the age of 13, Auckland native Ezra Vine has had the time to refine a musical style that is folksy and poetic. Back in late 2012 he started creating what would become his first EP Les Enfants on his macbook Pro. After releasing the EP with little fanfare on Bandcamp in January of 2013, Vine started generating an impressive amount of interest in his work, even turning down proposals from MTV music execs that came calling. His newest EP, Celeste, was released late in 2014 and again was completely independent and self-produced. It features his original folk sound and ambiguity laced lyrics. While the title track “Celeste” received a lot of the initial attention, with its circular melody and catchy handclaps reminiscent of Of Monsters and Men or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, it’s the more poetic and Bob Dylan-esque “He Won’t Knock” that really stands out.
The song begins with minimalist guitar picking that really puts Vine’s vocals front and center. Indeed, it’s his undisputable vocal abilities as well as lyrical penmanship that stand out on this track. The lyrics are poetic and emotive, painting a semantic picture much more complex than the accompanying instrumentals. The opening verse is beautifully visual: “I’ve been biting down my tongue all through the afternoon / But now there’s fractures in the glass around the snake pit / Cos while you gave your monologues about aiming for the moon / I found some obvious flaws in your spaceship”. The instrumentals build slightly towards the chorus, but never become overwhelming, with only subtle complexity added here and there with another acoustic guitar and some simplistic percussion. The chorus is similarly visual, cautionary while avoiding pretension: “For all the times he warned ya and you didn’t stop / You’re gonna be taken out for all it is ya got / Babe, you’re next in line or had you forgot? / That he’s memorised the numbers right above your letterbox / And when he comes baby, he won’t knock”.
This song shows another side to Ezra Vine’s music; it’s a ballad that invites engaging interpretation, a message that manages to be warning without being condescending. “He Won’t Knock” cements Vine’s place as a lyrical poet as well as an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist.