- When Annie Mac premiered Paul Woolford's latest Hotflush single on Radio1 in May of this year, she joked that the Leeds-born producer had "gone emo." She also likened "Mother & Child" to Massive Attack's "Unfinished Sympathy," the soulful and string-heavy '91 classic. It was all a bit hyperbolic (the song by no means looks back to trip-hop), but the radio host did zero in on a certain wistfulness in Woolford's music that had previously felt more playful or sharp. But in fact, those dramatic, sustained strings, that breakdown, those twinkling arps—they're straight out of the progressive house playbook.
More power to Woolford if he wants to move his music in this direction in service of bigger and bolder dynamics. The man himself has said this song "is a heartbreaking work of art that deals with the universal themes we all face on a daily basis," and he's just as unsubtle in its execution. But where that might work for some, it's the biggest problem with "Mother & Child": any true sentiment or moment of ecstasy it might bring to a dance floor is bludgeoned by a concentrated, overwrought attempt at seeming emotional. The canned cellos stab bloodlessly, the weepy violins lilt aimlessly, the 4/4 bounces methodically, and the synths, like a sheepish "Heaven Scent," echo sedately. Later in that same interview, Woolford said, "People relate to music that connects on an emotional level before anything else," which is precisely what "Mother & Child" hopes to accomplish. And yet for all the emoting crammed into the track, there's nothing there we can actually feel.
A Mother & Child
B Mother & Child Divided