Self-awareness isn’t a subject a lot of pop singers know how to grapple with sincerely, but Jason Shand isn’t most pop singers. Shand is a songwriter who composes what he feels on the realest level possible, and if this weren’t true of his new single “I Know,” I don’t believe critics like myself would be buzzing over its release right now. “I Know” draws us closer with its pleasure-emitting instrumentation but unleashes real daggers with its lead vocalist’s passionate verses, all of which sound and feel like the trappings of a completely introspective diary entry and not the standard-issue pop music we’ve all heard one too many times before.
Shand’s heart is on his sleeve in every aspect of this song, and not limited to the expressiveness of his singing at all. Contrary to what a lot of his contemporaries might have done with the soaring harmony in the chorus here, he’s rather minimalistic with his aesthetics, depending on the timbre of his voice and the precision of his backing band to set the stage more than he is the fluff we’d hear in another ambitious – but ultimately commercial – pop release this summer. Being detail-oriented is an attribute for sure, and in this player’s war chest, a weapon he can’t afford to lose.
There’s a profound sense of urgency in my man’s crooning as he scales the verses immediately feeding into the cathartic chorus in “I Know,” but it’s inevitably denied by the lumbering groove set forth by the percussion. This renders a lot of the tension in the words angst-ridden on the spot, but don’t think for a minute this wasn’t the original goal Jason Shand had in mind for this single from the get-go. His deliberate shaping of the release in the chorus forces all of the emotional discord into the fold, thus making his narrative more tangible and inescapably effective for all within earshot.
When all is said and done here, I think “I Know” is going to wind up being one of the most critically-acclaimed songs this singer ever adds to his discography for one reason over all the others – it represents a strain of artistic communication rarely utilized with any genuine meaning in pop music today. Shand isn’t afraid to be exposed and put everything out there if it means making the melody in this single sting more than any unfeeling pop hook ever would, and for that, I believe he deserves a lot of praise.
I cannot wait to hear Jason Shand’s sophomore album when it debuts later this year, but more than this, I’m eager to know what the future beyond his last trip to the recording studio is going to hold for listeners. He’s still got so many different avenues through which he can bring his creative ambitions to life, and in “I Know,” he more or less confirms that he isn’t even close to slowing down his artistic momentum anytime soon. What it all adds up to is anticipation among legit music lovers, starting with those who have already heard “I Know” this month.
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