Blue Water Highway Cut Through Romantic Static With ‘Sign Language’

When words fail, love finds another way.

Written by Chris Parton
Blue Water Highway Cut Through Romantic Static With ‘Sign Language’
Blue Water Highway; Photo credit: Cal & Aly

Texas group Blue Water Highway capture a communication break down in their new track, “Sign Language.” But this atmospheric standout features a couple who won’t give up.

Premiering on Sounds Like Nashville today (January 21), the dreamy track feels like a mix of ’80s electro-pop and rootsy Americana, with synthesized keyboards and percussion joining an old-school male/female harmony. Over a misty, lighter-than-air melody, vocalists Zack Kibodeaux and Catherine Clarke sing of a couple who are stuck in a romantic rut, feeling so out of sync that it’s like they’re no longer speaking the same lingo. But with guitarist Greg Essington and bassist Kyle Smith backing them up, the pair ultimately realize true love doesn’t need to be spoken out loud — it’s just something you feel.

The track arrives everywhere tomorrow (January 22), and although it’s based in one-on-one conflict, the band say they can see how it applies to bigger issues, too. Things like political differences and the global health challenge we’re all faced with.

“It’s about how two people can get into silly fights because they’re not seeing eye to eye, so they develop their own language to communicate,” they explain. “I think that’s an important message, how we can bond together when the world is falling apart.” 

“You move over to me, honey / And I’ll move over to you / We don’t need to talk, honey / To tell each other the truth / ‘Cause you know, and I know / It’s sign language,” goes the harmony-heavy chorus.

Meanwhile, the track’s raw and reflective headspace is captured on film with a black-and-white video (also premiering here today), further illustrating the woozy confusion of a breakup that may or may not happen. That unsettled feel was a big part of the inspiration behind the band’s upcoming album, Paper Airplanes, which is set for release on March 12.

“The sonic theme of the album was what we kept calling ‘building a space ship in a barn,'” the group says. “It was essentially mixing organic sounds of the country with sounds of the urbanized, modern world. We achieved that with acoustic instruments and natural vocal harmonies, mixed with analog synthesizers and electric guitars. Lyrically, we were going for something similar, holding fast to elemental and timeless values of love and communication, while the world outside is rapidly changing and sometimes feeling more isolating and disconnected.”

Blue Water Highway take their name from the road between their hometown of Lake Jackson, Texas and Galveston. The band have previously released two full-length albums — 2015’s Things We Carry and 2018’s Heartbreak City.