"Always Been You" by Chasing DeerReview
After something of a sabbatical from his previous heavy schedule with Chasing Deer, Rob Hodkinson has followed his "comeback" single "On Standby" with another product of his Margate songwriting retreat with Ollie Hayes called "Always Been You", now available from all the usual outlets plus you can find it on the current "Hot Music Live Presents" Spotify playlist https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3oCggbP6HwfZDqaI2vNUtn?si=0ba9a9986cfc413c
Performed by Rob & Ollie with Rory Evans and Harry Batsford (and produced by Ollie, John at Outhouse Studios and Natt at Ratcat Studios and mastered by Gethin at Hafod Mastering), the song is probably closer to classic Chasing Deer than its immediate predecessor being about love and relationships rather than exploring the creativity (or suspension thereof) of a musician. However I think given the roller coaster musicians were on for so long with the constant danger of opting to get off the ride, I think we can permit Rob a brief moment of reflection before he returned to his characteristic themes.
The good news is that Rob describes the song as "About YOU!" which must be nice for us all to have a song not merely dedicated to each of us but actually aimed too. To be fair, though I presume many of his previous love songs (of which there are many) to have specific inspirations, they have all sounded like he intended them as universal as far as applicability went.
In this instance Rob is interested in how "things don't always happen in the right place or at the right time. This song explores the pain of not being able to turn back the clock, and why you should speak your feelings."
If "On Standby" tended towards a bit of the Motown sound, then "Always Been You" opts more for a retro-80s approach, though perhaps not without its own little Motown nods too: which while that may sound like the desecration Phil Collins wreaked , thankfully Rob has greater taste in combining the two so please don't get alarmed. I imagine he chose the approach he did in search of a "big" sound to provide a broad canvas on which to pour his heart out: no doubt a statement of this scale was what he felt Chasing Deer needed to make at this moment of rebirth but also I detect a renewed zest for music & the size may in part at least reflect that also.
It's not actually a "return to form" as the standard never dropped: we simply had rather a longer hiatus between releases than normal: and that in itself would perhaps not have attracted much attention had Chasing Deer not been such a busy band before that. No harm I would have thought has been done career-wise by the break. Rob clearly needed it & I am sure we all wish him the best as he springs back into action refreshed & ready to go again. The song in terms of vigour & likeable, party-boosting cheer is precisely the sort of thing we'd have expected from him had there been no break: however it's fair to say that we would almost certainly not have got anything approaching this exact song, whose creation springs from the circumstances. I think that's a good thing: stepping back, reflecting, recharging and taking stock can only really help the creative process & it has paid off with "Always Been You".