In April of 2014, with a few weeks still to go until the release of Behind the Light, a video surfaced of a brand new song Phillip Phillips had debuted during a show in his home state of Georgia. It was a heavy and dark song, fully-formed, and played in its entirety. The song, which very soon was revealed was called “Trigger” hinted at the direction the new album would go, which was at least a few shades darker than The World from the Side of The Moon and recently released single “Raging Fire.”
It’s sometimes hard for a song to live up to the very first version we hear of it (especially if it’s live) but upon the release of Behind the Light, the studio version of “Trigger” more than matched the live version in energy, intensity, expression and execution.
One of two truly heavy songs on the album (the other being “Fly”), “Trigger” is also perhaps the darkest of all, mainly because of its lyrics, a story of a mind tormented by terrible pain and memories. These are some of the most vivid lyrics as well, going from a straight narrative in the verses to more obscure, more metaphorical statements in the chorus that defy a strictly literal interpretation. Phillip—who has solo writing credit here—delivers the lyrics with deep, raw emotion, managing to convey a pain that is really beyond imagination.
The music, heavy, rich and layered throughout but even more so in the chorus, also very much tells the story along with the lyrics, with delicate guitar, and haunting keys and trumpet that echo the anguish of the words. Musically, the heavy chorus of “Trigger” is also one of the most satisfying in the whole album, offering a release that’s very different from the almost spiritual one we feel in “Fly.” Here, the heaviness is a channel, an expression, of the fear and desperation described in the lyrics. The beauty of the song lies in that, in its ability to constrict our heart with pain, but completely rock our souls too; a merging of seemingly contradictory emotions that’s incredibly effective and powerful. It is also perfectly fitting for the story being told in “Trigger,” for what can be more painful, more earth shattering in its devastation than to be witness–real or imagined–to a dying soul, to the last beats of dying heart?
Check out the video of Phillip and band debuting “Trigger” live. And if you haven’t yet done so click here to buy Behind the Light!
Read our previous “Songs of the Week.”