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Single Premiere: Laurel Premo's 'Hop High'

By Amanda Wicks

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Michigan guitarist Laurel Premo has a way of wending the electric guitar. On her experimental new album, Golden Loam, she brings her finger-style sensibility to an array of original and traditional songs.

Premo is debuting her new single 'Hop High', performed live, exclusively with Holler. Listen below.

The song is an updated version of the traditional ballad 'Hop High' or 'Lula Girl'. Premo builds a reflective, folk-blues arrangement against which she moans for the figure at the song's center.

"This is a second tune on this recording that was arranged based on traditional banjo repertoire", Premo explained. "The earliest melody and lyric fragments of this widespread and varied song come from the playing of [North Carolinians] Dink Roberts and Fred Cockerham, and likely from other black banjo players from Virginia prior to Mr. Roberts."

In the video, Michigan dancer Nic Gareiss accompanies Premo, lightly tapping and sliding on a wooden board to add a more palpable rhythm to Premo's guitar playing. Gareiss also appears on the album version of 'Hop High' and 'Poor Little Mary Sitting in the Corner'.

"It was intentional to have the second voices on this project be percussionists that matched the minimal focus of the solo guitar music", Premo said about including Gareiss.

Premo added, "For both Nic and I, arranging and recording the two dance tracks on Golden Loam were the only in-person music collaborations that we both did during the lockdown. Both the music we ended up with but also the process of getting to know each other more closely as artists were real lifelines during that hard year".

Outside of Gareiss' footwork and bones player Eric Breton's contribution to the track 'Jericho', Premo largely recorded the album by herself. The instrumental tracks show off the guitarist's instinctive storytelling capacity.

Premo released her debut album The Iron Trios in 2019. Golden Loam marks her sophomore release and it's out October 8. Pre-order it today.