Vocal-dominant pop will always be a big seller in the western market, but rather than trying to employ a blueprint her contemporaries would just as soon stylize their own sound around in the new single “Waterfall,” Lexi Mariah is going the extra mile to give us something wholly original and unindebted to the mainstream model as it stands in 2020. Mixing a throwback harmony with a precise percussive arrangement that keeps us on the edge of our seats from start to finish, “Waterfall” is an interesting combination of old school melodic fireworks and new school conceptualism. It’s stimulating enough to be considered highbrow, but I’d be lying if this song didn’t have immense radio appeal right out of the box.
One of the first things I noticed about this track was its meticulous instrumental construction, which seems to have been designed with the idea of preserving the vocal’s deliberate decadence above all else. There’s nothing wrong with incorporating a little bit of overindulgence into your sound when you can balance it with a relatively efficient compositional framework, and in the case of this single, it’s clear that Mariah was thinking about the aesthetical perceptions of the music as much as she was its attractiveness as a straight pop tune. That’s not common of most rookie players in her position, and a release like this is actually rather telling of how quickly she’s taking to the recording studio and the pressurized environment that it can be in the midst of starting a career.
The balance between the bassline and the drums in the back half of this mix is skewed by a buoyancy from the lead vocal that I wouldn’t have expected to sound as pleasing as it does in this situation, and to some degree it’s this kind of a daring move I want Lexi Mariah to make a standard feature of her new music. She’s not as rebellious as some of the other young female pop singer/songwriters I’ve reviewed in 2020, but instead a bit bolder in what she’s willing to draw from to create something untethered to trends. Without being particularly bohemian with the theme of this single, she’s inviting a carefree mood that is more typical of folk music than it is modern pop, which makes me eager to hear what she’ll be able to do with a complete LP.
A bit more complex than it initially lets on, what listeners are going to discover in “Waterfall” this November amounts to an amazing way of getting to know the artistry of Lexi Mariah and understanding her gifts without anything to come between her narrative and the audience she seeks to impart it to. She’s definitely got my attention right now, and as long as she keeps releasing material with as stinging an emotional feel as this latest track is boasting, I’m certain that she’s going to make the transition from the underground to the big leagues a lot sooner than some of her closest indie rivals will.