Guy Story spent many years putting his songwriting on the back burner. His three-plus decade run in the technology industry included working in various capacities for corporations as diverse as Audible, Bell Laboratories, and Amazon. His role as founding CTO of Audible is one of his most crucial contributions to the current landscape of the music world, but he’s had considerable influence as well with digital media, rights management, and startup culture. It never quelled his desire to write and record his own music, however.
His single “Hard to Be Up When You’re Down” validates the rightness of his decision. This song written in the spirit of enduring the pandemic doesn’t ever feel like a painful slog. It has a gentle glide from the outset and Story makes several instrumental additions along the way that deepens its impact. Its melodic strengths are apparent. It has the sort of immediate aural charm that gets under the listener’s skin and invites multiple listens.
The chorus is one of the song’s outstanding attributes. It emphasizes, as well, Story’s skills with the vocal arrangement. The singing seamlessly syncs with the arrangement. He has a real penchant for song construction that makes “Hard to Be Up When You’re Down” an effervescent listening experience. It has a light touch and even Story’s idiosyncratic vocals have a great deal of personality.
It has broad appeal. Storytown’s influences are obvious but there isn’t one characteristic about their music that associates him with any particular artist. Story has done an outstanding job of assimilating all of the different voices affecting his art into self-expression that is distinctive rather than imitative. There’s little doubt in my mind that Story has honed these talents over the years long before launching the Storytown project as it has well-practiced polish.
The polish never comes at the expense of authenticity. “Hard to Be Up When You’re Down” has a palpable emotional impact thanks to both its affecting melody and the emotional overtones of Story’s voice. It connects with listeners immediately and there’s no straining for effect. It casts its spell over listeners with a sort of offhanded relaxed elegance. Everything is in its proper place and Story’s songwriting instincts rein it in.
There isn’t a moment of self-indulgence dragging the song down. Everything is focused on serving the song rather than impressing listeners with ostentatious displays of skill. “Hard to Be Up When You’re Down” may have a dispirited tenor, but it’s an ultimately life-affirming pushback against any inkling of despair.
He sports a singular voice. There’s no one writing songs like Storytown and “Hard to Be Up When You’re Down” is a five star example of the voice he brings to his work. It has an effortless lift that carries listeners to another level and invites you to keep coming back for more. It’s an affecting track that doesn’t strike a false note from beginning to end. Let’s be grateful that he decided to open this new chapter in his life and hope it continues indefinitely.