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“Mirror Mirror” by Morgan King

In her debut single “Mirror Mirror,” Morgan King depicts emotionality in fable-like terms, but her lyrical charm isn’t defined wholly by poeticisms alone. As a singer, King is both direct and bewitchingly melodic, utilizing a post-gothic sensibility that allows her to straddle the line between pop, rock, punk, and singer/songwriter aesthetics all at once here. She’s an incredibly versatile player, and I was surprised by just how efficient a composer she is given that this is the first track she’s released. Some gifts are natural-born, and this certainly appears to be one of them.

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The instruments in this mix reflect upon the introspections of the verses rather than extending them, which isn’t as limiting for King’s expressiveness here as you might think it would be. She knows how to employ conservative songwriting wit when it benefits the story she’s looking to tell, and I think this is an instance in which the less-is-more philosophy helps to get across the scathing commentary her lyrics contain better than anything else could have. This is a methodical player by all accounts, and I wonder just how profound a sound she’ll have with more experience in and outside of the studio under her belt.

King isn’t pushing this beat too hard, and I like the loose feel of the arrangement her lax attitude towards the percussion produces. Her vocal isn’t strangled by the simplicity of the rhythm, nor the pummeling effect of a drum part circling her words (especially when all we need are these harmonies to understand the weight of her sentiments here). A lot of her rivals would have been tempted to go a little heavier on the backend for something of this style, but I’m a big fan of the direction she decided to go instead.

The vocal harmony that we discover in the chorus is strikingly pain-filled and encapsulates the story being told in this song exquisitely. Had I not been made aware of her background beforehand, I think I probably could have been convinced into thinking this was King’s third or fourth solo outing rather than her very first, and it’s because of how concise her expression is, regardless of where it’s coming from in “Mirror Mirror.” Her confidence is another point of interest in this performance, but were she not already an adept songwriter with a solid execution behind the mic, I don’t know that we would be able to appreciate her swagger for all it’s worth.

Morgan King isn’t like any other rookie recording artist I’ve been listening to lately, but instead a player who most definitely has an independent path she’s committed to right out of the gate. “Mirror Mirror” demonstrates a litany of reasons to keep an eye for her future work, but more than that I think it defines what’s missing from the bulk of mainstream pop in 2021; experimental attitude and a willingness to embrace volatility if it means shaping a true, complete narrative. This is something King has down to a science, and there’s no debating that here.

John McCall

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