Effervescent piano keys dot the landscape of a reflective harmony that will act as our segue into the new single from the one and only Jon Dowling, “Don’t Wanna Own the World,” but they’re not the only agent of evocation working to captivate us at the onset of this latest track from the Trials and Tribulations singer. There’s a crisp electric guitar off in the distance, and while we recognize its tortured notes immediately, it won’t become a featured factor until later on in the song. Dowling doesn’t wait very long before making his grand entrance on the whim of a fleeting melodic groove, illustrated by a playful drumbeat that sounds constricted beneath the bassline but is still capable of texturizing the lyrics that he is serenading us with from under the spotlight.
The verses lead us on a winding road towards the chorus, and for a brief moment, the vocal track melds into the piano parts and they become a singular force. The mix evens out the tonality between the two components and eventually allows us to get closer to the percussion, which could be my favorite element in this song. Lately, there hasn’t been enough soft pop with a beat as mischievously boisterous as this one is, and even if it isn’t the main focus on the soundboard, its contribution is really what makes this single a hit. The chorus comes over the horizon like a new day’s rising sun, and whether we’re prepared for it or not, hits us with as much intensity as a raging tidal wave would.
“I don’t wanna own the world, I just wanna find my place in it / I really only need one girl, who will stick with me through thick and thin,” Dowling wails, with his words bouncing off the bassline and leaving a trail of heroic harmonies in their wake. I found that, even at moderate volumes, it’s next to impossible to keep your speakers from shaking with excitement as this verse sails through the air. Jon Dowling has received a lot of attention for his magnetizing songwriting skills, but he deserves more credit for his singing, which is some of the most emotive of anyone in his scene and beyond right now. He’s living for the moment in this song, and bringing all of us along for the ride.
In the instrumental finale of “Don’t Wanna Own the World,” that whispering guitar that we first noticed at the beginning of the song finally gets its big moment and discharges a flange-soaked solo that will pierce through the heart of the coldest among us this season and leave anyone who loves solid pop/rock craving more from this amazing singer/songwriter. I didn’t know much about Jon Dowling before being asked to give my thoughts on his latest single, but you’d better believe that I’m going to be following his work from here on out. He’s got a talent that, from what I’ve learned as a music critic over the last ten years, just can’t be taught in any school or practiced into existence regardless of desire. This is his most dynamic work yet and can be considered required listening for adult contemporary fans everywhere.
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