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“Waterfall” by Lexi Mariah

“Your words hit me like a waterfall / You’re good – good at makin’ me feel small” explains Lexi Mariah in the chorus of her new single “Waterfall,” her words echoing a sentiment of confessional vulnerability that will serve as a key theme in this latest release. While Mariah’s vocal and specifically the tonality it brings to the table would be reason enough to check out anything bearing her moniker this fall, her most recent studio work explores of a depth within her songwriting and execution that hasn’t been as evident in her first couple of releases, making this quite the profound and forward-looking track indeed.

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The lyrics are only telling us part of the story in “Waterfall,” and rather than the harmony framing the narrative in this instance, there’s a case to be made that it’s conveying as much emotionality as any given verse does. Mariah is going out of her way to make the cadence of her delivery uneven with the fluidity of the percussion in the backdrop, but rather than this producing unnecessary chaos, it’s an agent of evocation that alludes to an exposed sensibility in her poetry that I really want to hear more of in the future.

While instrumentally minimalistic for the most part, this track fits in with a greater trend I’ve been following in the American underground that features pop musicians like Mariah essentially stepping away from the indulgence that their forerunners’ sound was so thoroughly steeped in. “Waterfall” feels removed from its own decadences, with the melodic charm that our leading lady emits from behind the mic creating a reaction that is separate from others listeners would potentially experience when focusing on other intricacies within the mix. Some might be quick to call her formula a bit overcomplicated, but to me, this is precisely the type of postmodernity the pop genre needs to advance in 2020.

None of the passion in this single feels even remotely like a pose, and I would cite the carefully-shaped tonal presence of Mariah’s lead vocal as evidence proving as much. You can’t rehearse the kind of energy she’s putting out in “Waterfall” into existence, no matter how repetitious a player you may or may not be; it’s a natural born talent that she’s cultivating into maturity. It can be a delicate process, but even considering the lofty ambitions she demonstrates as a songwriter, I don’t find her to be jumping the gun creatively at all.

I hadn’t been keeping up with Lexi Mariah’s output as closely as I should have been prior to getting a taste of “Waterfall,” but now that I know the kind of talent she’s working with in the recording studio, I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of her music in the future – and I’d recommend you consider doing the same. 2020 has been anything but conventional on all fronts, but if you’re looking for a bit of familiarity in pop music that doesn’t sound recycled from another artist or era in history, this is a player you need to hear.

John McCall

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