When I was in composition school much of the curriculum centered around a study of theme, and how to develop such things. How do other people do it; how do we create ‘primes’ of existing ‘figures’. It’s all very heady and opaque, but really boils down to simplicity. The Aaron Coplands of the world can create a massive piece for symphony by taking a bar-long phrase and just stretching it out.
Sometimes great pop songs work the same way. Tom West, with his single Got It Cheap, is able to take a lyrical phrase and a simple melody and create a song out of it. Yes, there is repetition, but the context changes in interesting ways, and the page keeps turning on the point of view.
It's a slow swing, a toe-tapper, and a bit of nostalgia. I love the arrangement, the use of banjo, and the very effective use of space. It's a message about the value of taking the high road.