EP - Zach Bryan - Boys Of Faith
news

‘Boys Of Faith’ by Zach Bryan & Bon Iver - Lyrics & Meaning

September 22, 2023 3:34 pm GMT
Last Edited December 19, 2023 7:16 pm GMT

t-logo
f-logo
email logo
link icon

Link copied

Zach Bryan & Bon Iver - ‘Boys Of Faith’

Label: Belting Bronco Records / Warner Records

Release Date: 22nd September 2023

EP: Boys Of Faith

Producer: Zach Bryan

Songwriter: Zach Bryan

The Background:

On September 22 2023, Zach Bryan did what Zach Bryan does best, and surprised fans with a brand new EP just a matter of weeks after releasing his acclaimed self-titled album.

Although nobody was expecting a five-song EP, Zach did leave a trail of breadcrumbs in the lead-up to Boys Of Faith suggesting new music was on the way.

The ‘I Remember Everything’ songsmith teased collaborations with folk-leaning up-and-comer, Noah Kahan, as well as a titan of the genre, Bon Iver, who frequently strays outside the lines to work with the likes of Kanye West, Travis Scott, Taylor Swift and more.

Given the features list on Boys Of Faith, it's evident before even listening that Zach is exploring a more folk-inspired sound compared to his self-titled album and his earlier material.

The title-track epitomises this, with Zach Bryan immersing himself in the ethereal world of Bon Iver. In recent years, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon has explored a much more experimental, enigmatic style on his solo projects. However, Justin has always been a master of shape-shifting and moulding his sound to coalesce as effectively and viscerally as possible with his collaborator - a quality that continues to make him a highly sought-after presence in the writing room.

As a result, ‘Boys Of Faith’ still feels at home in Zach Bryan's discography. Even immediately after its release, it was clear the title-track would evolve into the most popular song on the Boys Of Faith EP.

Many are already tipping it to become Zach's second Billboard Hot 100 No. 1, following the chart-topping success of the Oklahoma native's Kacey Musgraves duet, ‘I Remember Everything’.

Endearingly, it seems the boys in the photo on the EP's artwork are the friends that Zach refers to throughout ‘Boys Of Faith’.

The Sound:

We can't discuss the sound of ‘Boys Of Faith’ without giving an honourable mention to Zach Bryan's beloved chocolate Labrador, Jack Daniels, who kicks off the track with a few hearty barks. After making a number of subtle appearances throughout Zach's self-titled project in August, Jack makes a more notable contribution to ‘Boys Of Faith’.

Although a trivial yet charming addition on the surface of things, this enhances the lo-fi, DIY sound that Zach Bryan always strives for. We see a similar effect at the start of ‘Dawns’ with Maggie Rogers, which features a police siren and the sound of Zach's desk-chair rolling on the ground; he chose not to edit either out of the final mix.

‘Boys Of Faith’ begins with a weighty electric guitar foreshadowing the impending chorus, coupled with the signature ambient piano keys often found in Bon Iver's work.

Zach Bryan and Bon Iver's combined voices then emerge out of the euphony, drenched in stronger reverb than we usually hear in Zach's music. The layering of the two voices, with Bon Iver providing a haunting higher harmony, gives the song a striking depth.

An understated drum beat gradually grows throughout the first verse, before Zach and Justin launch into the emphatic, euphoric bridge (“But you stuck around / And I'll owe you all my days”).

Interestingly, Bon Iver's vocals mirror Zach Bryan's throughout the entire track, until we reach the outro, during which we hear Justin Vernon crooning soulfully by himself. Aside from this, Bon Iver's layered vocals are given more prominence during the hook, with Zach nonetheless taking the lead for the majority of ‘Boys Of Faith’.

The Meaning:

“High tide has been risin' up
I've been gettin' up with some boys I used to know
We're tryin' to get our pockets up
This year has just been movin' fuckin' slow”

‘Boys Of Faith’ coasts across an unstoppable wave of nostalgia, with Zach Bryan beginning by outlining how he's been spending time with a group of his old friends.

He prefaces this with the metaphor of a high tide building, which seems to symbolise change and the rapidity of this in Zach's life. Furthermore, the imagery could also point to the fact that the song's protagonist is struggling with how busy his schedule has become, with high tide representing the moment when the sea is at its fullest.

Zach goes on to explain how he and his friends have been trying to make some extra money (“We're trying to get our pockets up”), painting a scene of a run-down, struggling group of buddies that are trying everything they can to catch a break.

He concludes the opening hook by lamenting how sluggishly the year has been moving. Despite much of the song feeling autobiographical, judging by Zach Bryan's relentless musical output, his touring schedule and continued success, it seems we shouldn't definitively equate Zach with the ‘Boys Of Faith’ protagonist.

“You were comin' out to Pineville, it was freezin' cold
I'm gettin' old by the day
You said I gave your heart somethin' to believe in
'Cause boys like us fade away”

He once again emphasises this sense of restlessness and urgency, as he quips, “I'm gettin’ old by the day”. As is frequently the case with Zach's songwriting, he heightens the intimacy and sense of personality by referencing specific place-names, such as Pineville.

Although it's never made 100% clear, ‘Boys Of Faith’ seems to be directed towards the titular group of friends, and he heartwarmingly shares how they relied on one another in order to stay strong and not ‘fade away’ due to life's challenges.

“But you stuck around when I was down
And I'll owe you all my days
Them boys of faith
Them boys of faith”

Here, Zach Bryan underlines his undying loyalty to these friends, who never stopped believing in him. Now that he has reached a level of stardom that many only dream of, he reiterates what it means to him that his buddies have always stuck by him.

“You were takin' photos of me in Kentucky
Sayin' we were lucky for the light
Who would've thought those things would find a billboard
Way out in New York at night”

As ‘Boys Of Faith’ approaches its denouement, Zach Bryan summarises how meteoric his success has been, and how this old group of pals have been there through it all.

He recalls how they were taking photos of him in Kentucky, and touchingly, those same pictures ended up on a billboard in New York City, presumably promoting one of Zach's new releases.

“Thinkin' of the times that you didn't bat an eye
All those of times, I shake
Them boys of faith
Them boys of faith”

Again, Zach pays tribute to his friends’ unwavering loyalty through the years, highlighting that they “didn't bat an eye” and continued believing in him, even when he harboured doubts about his future.

What has Zach Bryan said about ‘Boys Of Faith’?

Zach Bryan hasn't spoken at great length about either his 2023 self-titled album or his Boys Of Faith EP. However, he did express his gratitude to Bon Iver for his work on the title-track, writing on Twitter, “Come back soon Bon Iver, you have a friend for life”.

Additionally, the ‘Something in the Orange’ hitmaker confirmed it's his dog, Jack Daniels, barking at the start of the song. He posted a tongue-in-cheek response to a fan's question regarding Jack's involvement, “The real boy of faith”

When answering another Tweet about the new Bon Iver collaboration, Zach shed some light on how long the track took to come about, “When I say four days I mean a close one”.

For the full lyrics to Zach Bryan and Bon Iver's ‘Boys Of Faith’, see below:

“High tide has been risin' up
I've been gettin' up with some boys I used to know
We're tryin' to get our pockets up
This year has just been movin' fuckin' slow

You were comin' out to Pineville, it was freezin' cold
I'm gettin' old by the day
You said I gave your heart somethin' to believe in
'Cause boys like us fade away

But you stuck around when I was down
And I'll owe you all my days
Them boys of faith
Them boys of faith

High tide has been risin' up
I've been gettin' up with some boys I used to know
We're tryin' to get our pockets up
This year has just been movin' fuckin' slow

You were takin' photos of me in Kentucky
Sayin' we were lucky for the light
Who would've thought those things would find a billboard
Way out in New York at night

Thinkin' of the times that you didn't bat an eye
All those of times, I shake
Them boys of faith
Them boys of faith

High tide has been risin' up
I've been gettin' up with some boys I used to know
We're tryin' to get our pockets up
This year has just been movin' fuckin' slow

High tide has been risin' up
I've been gettin' up with some boys I used to know
We're tryin' to get our pockets up
This year has just been movin' fuckin' slow”

For more on Zach Bryan, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
Author - Zach Bryan
Zach Bryan
Artist
Author - undefined
Bon Iver
Artist