Whoever first said that distance makes the heart grow fonder might have been onto something. Singer-songwriters Del Water Gap and Holly Humberstone have experienced first-hand the gravitational pull of oceans separating them from the people they want to be closest to — and they poured those memories into their latest single “Cigarettes & Wine.”
“‘Cigarettes & Wine’ is an ode to a transatlantic long-distance relationship,” Del Water Gap shared in a statement. “It’s about finally getting to catch a moment with the person you’ve been missing the most, and the threads that keep you connected when you’re once again forced to say goodbye.”
The record marks the first collaboration between the two artists. “Working on ‘Cigarettes & Wine’ with one of my favourite artists has been so much fun,” Humberstone shared. “I first met Holden about three years ago at the very start of my career when we played a show together at The Roxy in Los Angeles. It was my first time in the states and I’d been a huge fan of Holden’s music and so I was pretty star struck!”
She added: “As the years have gone on I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot more time in the states, but have definitely felt the pressures that long distance can put on relationships and I think that’s something that a lot of touring artists can really relate to. It’s a song that is so meaningful to me and being able to create it with one of my favourite writers has really been a dream and I hope people love it as much as we do.”
Humberstone did a fair amount of reflection on past relationships as she released her debut album, Paint My Bedroom Black, in October 2023. On songs like “Antichrist,” she turned over details in her mind and wondered if maybe she was the problem after all. “I remember writing that song and it being a little difficult,” Humberstone told Rolling Stone at the time. “I just didn’t have the spare mental energy for it, and I neglected this person that was the best and didn’t deserve it.”
“Cigarettes & Wine” marks Del Water Gap’s first release since sharing his sophomore album, I Miss You Already + I Haven’t Left Yet, in September 2023. The thematic thread of feeling pressure while being on the road showed up throughout that record, too, particularly on the Arlo Parks collaboration “Quilt of Steam.” The pair had been on tour together, both trying to hide their exhaustion and burnout from the other, before it was canceled.
“She called me after the fact and was like, ‘I’m so sorry. I was so tired.’ And I was like, ‘Dude, I was so tired.’ We had realized we were both lying to each other and trying to put on a brave face like ‘Oh, we’re so excited to be on tour,’” Del Water Gap told Rolling Stone last year. “But that experience really started a greater conversation with me about trying to check in with musicians about burnout. I think especially financially, touring is a much different situation after Covid. Everything’s more expensive. That added stress can add to burnout on top of just being tired.”