On a walk in January of last year, Philly-based singer/songwriter Kennedy Freeman got the first inkling of a melody for “Back to You,” the latest single released through their project Highnoon. “I was listening to [Helena Deland’s] song ‘Smoking at the Gas Station’ and began harmonizing with it,” they remember. “I suddenly got an idea and rushed back home to flesh it out with my guitar.” Over the rest of the year, that solo epiphany led to their first recording as a full-fledged studio band, giving their flushed, golden-hour bedroom pop a more professional finish. Although Freeman sings it gently, the concept at the track’s heart is bracing. “The song is about getting to know yourself and knowing what you want,” they explain. “Growing up and growing apart.”
Making “Back to You,” on the other hand, was an exercise in growing together. A day after that walk, Freeman sent a demo out to their bandmates—guitarist Brendan Simpson, bassist Nathan Avila, and drummer Justin Roth—who before that point had never written or arranged new songs as a group. “We were really out of our comfort zones,” says Freeman. “I’d work one-on-one with each member, sending emails and audio recordings over email, to write the parts together. It took months, but eventually we had something that sounded like a song.”
They tracked the final version, with its glowing keys and butter-smooth harmonies, at Headroom Philadelphia, a long walk from the homemade, acoustic approach of the last Highnoon EP, Divers. Freeman had undertaken that record as a “challenging but necessary” first experience with setting up their own mics, interface, and digital audio workstation before trying to work with the whole band in a studio. “Working on a more stripped-down project made me all the more prepared to try new things on the single,” they share. “Even after making ‘Back to You,’ there are a ton of things I know I could’ve done differently, but I’m learning as I go!”
The first of two full-band singles planned for 2022, “Back to You” foreshadows an exciting new era for Highnoon, and it arrives today with a colorful video animated by Enne Goldstein.