Patti Smith and her daughter, Jesse Parris Smith have joined forces with Soundwalk Collective to release a new song, “Killer Road”. The collaborative effort utilizes parts of poems that Nico, the German-born singer who appeared on the first Velvet Underground record, wrote just before her death.
The track itself is led by the elder Smith vocally, which is essentially spoken word over a mellow, restrained instrumental. Lyrically, it is mostly a contemplation on life itself. While the pace of the song never accelerates past a slow tempo, it is just as poignant. The borrowed lyrics from Nico’s poetry eerily forshadow her death at the time they were written. She passed away in 1988 on a bicycle accident while on the island of Ibiza in 1988.
The release of the song marks a return to studio material for Patti Smith, whose last album Banga, was released in 2012. It was the most recent effort in what has been a very prolific career for Smith, with her albums Horses, Radio Ethiopia, and Easter often considered staples of 70’s rock, as well as the burgeoning punk scene at the time. Recently, instead of releasing new recorded material, she has had several high-profile performances, including singing “Gloria”, one of the hallmark tracks off of Horses, live on stage with U2.
So, this collaborative cut serves as a segue into what Smith may offer next. No new album or tour is guaranteed, but if she keeps releasing quality, thought-provoking material like this in some capacity, that would likely suffice. She has garnered quite a fanbase over the years, and it is likely that she’ll be active in the music world in some way going forward.
For now, fans should enjoy this new material being provided. “Killer Road” succeeds in its ability to usher in a particular mood and theme, all the while paying tribute to Nico using her work as a complimentary piece. Ultimately, its an original piece that doesn’t come off as contrived or overwrought. Given Smith’s prior experimentation in the studio, something like this doesn’t come as a surprise, but it is welcome all the same.
Keep an eye out as the year progresses for more news on Smith and any of new endeavors. If this track is any indication, she isn’t finished yet.