In her latest single and second release of 2020, titled “Waterfall,” Lexi Mariah continues to shine as a singer and songwriter while directly highlighting specific elements in her sound that some might not have noticed in her first three tracks. Mariah’s harmonies in this song are immediately evocative and strong enough to shape the rhythm of the song as well as the melodic direction of the music. The instrumentation, the vocals, even the production style itself are used to generate an authentic moodiness in this release, and though I wish I could say the same for the bulk of mainstream content I’ve heard lately, I simply cannot.
Lyrically “Waterfall” is a really provocative song that could be interpreted through a couple of different lens, but I myself look at it from a balladic perspective more than I do any other. The tone of Mariah’s voice is what inevitably puts a stamp on the emotions in every verse, and I don’t know that the narrative would feel the same if she had presented it in front of a heavier, more rock-influenced format than this one is. She’s not interested in making one of her peers’ singles here, and that’s obvious even in a casual listening session.
There’s definitely not as much bass in this mix as others might have introduced beside the vocal, but I really don’t see where there would have been any room for additional low-end textures given how much space is already committed to the singer. Mariah needs to control the lion’s share of the focus in this track not to promote a self-centered image but to instead show us how fragile she can remain while straddling an otherwise challenging rhythm. For all intents and purposes this is an exhibition piece, and it proves its point without any artificialities.
The drums lag behind the melodic elements in a couple of spots here, and as strange as it might sound on paper, I think this too was a necessary component of making “Waterfall” distinctive and a little artsier than the other songs in Lexi Mariah’s present discography. When you have the talent to get as experimental as she is in this release, going for it is a good way to get critics excited about the possibilities an album might have in store, but when taking into account the passion she has for the lyrics in this single I don’t think her lone motivation was ever making money.
Breathtakingly harmony-centric and nonconformist in all the right ways, “Waterfall” has made me a fan of Lexi Mariah – and I can definitely understand why she’s been attracting the level of buzz she has been in 2019 and 2020. This single diversifies her body of work and suggests really big things ahead of her still, and with minimalist pop music surging in popularity right now, Mariah just may have chosen the right moment to release her most powerful material so far. I’m impressed, and I doubt I’m the only critic with these sentiments.
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