Nashville’s Bern Kelly follows up his well-received 2021 album ‘Fantastic stories!’ with a moody song of embattled love and worn relationships. Hope conflicts with desperation, highs are balanced by lows and relationships are sustained through perseverance and determination. That’s the focus for the bittersweet romance of ‘Gotta Stay’, featuring the gorgeous voice of Larissia Murphy. Kelly’s emotive lyrics carry extra power and authenticity when delivered as a duet: “Used to be so easy we didn’t have to try…We may see the world through different eyes // We gotta stay, you and I, tonight // We shouldn’t feel alone in each others’ arms,” and the pairs’ performances are believable and relatable for the listening audience. ‘Gotta Stay’ is characterised by Kelly’s reverb-heavy electric guitar and an engaging melody. But what really makes this song stand out is the vocal dance of Kelly and Murphy, whose voices intertwine and complement one another perfectly, giving the sense that we are being let in on an intimate heart-to-heart.
The pair have collaborated before; back in 2015, they co-wrote Murphy’s single ‘Late One Night’. Here on ‘Gotta Stay’, when Murphy begins to sing, it’s heartfelt and powerful, her beautiful tone truly elevating a song that Kelly has previously played solo. Kelly explains: “The hope and despair in these lyrics always got such a visceral reaction when I played it live. I had two separate occasions where someone told me it felt like I was talking about them. This is kind of the ultimate goal as a songwriter and it gave me the idea to take it further and reimagine it as duet. Larissia is a dear friend of mine and has long been one of my favourite vocalists. Her performance brings this song to life like I couldn’t have imagined.”
Directed by Beau Burnette, the video takes a simple approach, featuring the duo performing the song after dark, out in the city street. It’s an effective approach, creating an atmospheric visual that focuses our attention on the lyrical detail and the emotive delivery. Beneath the vocals, bass from Travis Vance (Thomas Rhett) and drums from Ben Dumas (The Wild Feathers) help to drive the song along. Kelly and Murphy combine so effectively, let’s hope the duo don’t wait too long before working together again. Enjoy.
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