Pain and heartbreak are a part of everyone’s life. That’s an unfortunate truth about living on this planet. There’s no one way to move past difficult experiences or troubling moments, but expression through art is one possibility. There’s something cathartic about putting your troubles into a tangible form, and these pieces of art can help others as well. Canadian musician Taylor Johnson, performing under the moniker The Hope State, is using his music to express an honest, unflinching look at what he’s been through. That’s clear on his new single “Just Survive,” which we’re thrilled to premiere along with its music video on Substream.

Lyrically, “Just Survive” finds Johnson telling listeners some of his darkest moments and feelings. “My blood’s been clean since we lost our daughter” he sings on the hook, revealing the traumatic incident that has been plaguing him and the mother, whom he sings to throughout the song. Johnson pulls no punches in how hurt he is, but there’s still glimmers of light in the darkness. The instrumental is a bright and upbeat piano, with warm and inviting guitars to round out the sound. The chorus also makes clear Johnson is doing his best to move forward, and he and the mother will lean on each other for support.

The accompanying music video finds Johnson out in the wilderness with the mother, both reflecting on what happens next. There’s a soft light over the entire video, and the entire thing is relatively peaceful in imagery considering the contents of the song.

Asked about the creation of the video and his vision as a whole, Johnson said ““Despite always feeling thankful to have steady work in the music industry, I felt as if a large part of my artistic freedom and general happiness were being comprised through my work as a ghostwriter. I longed to write more personal, meaningful songs and to perform them live. With that, I began writing and playing under The Hope State. For the video I tried to make it look as natural as possible. We used no lighting aside from the sun, no make-up on anyone… Just as raw as we could get it and I’m rather happy with how it turned out. Still a little bit too much of my face for my taste though.”

Watch The Hope State’s video for “Just Survive” below. With powerful storytelling like this in the music, The Hope State is definitely an artist to watch going forward.