My expectations were more than pleasantly surprised by Raquel Kiaraa’s newest single “Dear Jesus”. When you listened to a lot of music for a living, sometimes you accidentally find yourself judging a song based on the title alone (a big no-no, kids don’t do that please), and sometimes even bringing that baggage might end up coloring your view of the song. I was floored with how wrong my initial impression was based on the title because Kiaraa’s song is one of the most emotionally provocative experiences I’ve had out of indie music for some time now. Maybe it’s the use of “Dear” in the title that reminds me of something a bit more pop-blase like “Dear Future Husband”, but in actuality, it’s a song full of rich emotional complexity.
Sung from Kiaraa’s point of view, it walks us through the late-night mind many can relate to. Why am I not fulfilled and why does it feel like I’m not heard? It’s almost subversive in a way with how I expected it to be the kind of “I’m so grateful of all things you do in your mysterious ways” song that a lot of these can end up being, but instead, it’s something more existential in nature. It’s an inner and outer dialogue from a woman singing from the depths of her heart that life is becoming more and more challenging and there’s usually supposed to be a sense of gratification you’re supposed to feel, right? Well, she asks, why hasn’t it come to me, and am I doing something wrong?
On a grander scale, it’s about an almost cosmic indifference. Joseph Campbell once called God in storytelling an “impersonal force” meaning that it’s not that he doesn’t care about you, he just doesn’t think of your period. I was reminded of the initial feelings I had when I first read that passage listening to this song. Kiaraa’s voice is stirring and filled with a rich pathos that this never comes across as feeling empty or attempting to reach for material beyond her depth. She’s done something that’s very difficult to do in a lot of music which takes a feeling that is in theory, very universal, the ennui, the doubts, the pain, and somehow package it sonically in such a unique way that it feels like something new and when you experience it for the first time, it feels so personal and intimate, like hearing a friend confess to you the hard things you think too, but have never shared out loud before.
The production is rich and gorgeous and refreshingly modern and Raquel’s voice as mentioned earlier is just fantastic especially with the chorus and its passage of “Do you hear me, do you care” are just spine-chillingly good, from the combination of her delivery and what a good bridge it is. These are the early sounds of an artist baring it all for an unassuming audience and these are going to be some of the best material of her career before, if only for now. Kiaraa has an incredibly bright future ahead of her.
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