Lush and filled with a vibrancy that extends to the vocal to make a brooding harmony at the center of the song, the strings that accompany Neon Dreams and Mthandazo Gatya in “Say It Out Loud” are essential to what makes the track and its accompanying music video so difficult to step away from this October. Fashioned with the buoyancy of a classic pop song, they adorn the groove with a colorful panache that I don’t see another instrument pulling off nearly as seamlessly. In a cocktail of rhythm and harmony, these collaborators offer us a bright shot of life at a time of the year that usually fosters pop songs going in a different direction.
This mix puts Gatya’s vocal ahead of everything else, and while this creates a tremendous amount of pressure on his verses, he withstands the tension in the arrangement beautifully. The melodicism of the hook is made all the more powerful thanks to his command over the words, and though he swings with the percussion rather than the bassline, he always sounds grounded and very confident in whatever he’s singing to us. He doesn’t need a lot of extra footing here; he’s got the charisma to do just about anything he wants beside Neon Dreams.
The collaborative spirit between these players really impacts the way the narrative is framed in “Say It Out Loud,” and I don’t know that it would have sounded nearly as passionate and honest in tone were it performed by one act exclusively. There’s a togetherness to this piece that just erupts catharsis with every passing beat, and while I haven’t listened to another artist try and play it a different way, this just has too signature a feel for anyone else to make it the way these musicians so carefully have.
I love the freewheeling energy of the music video for “Say It Out Loud,” and I found it to be a perfect encapsulation of who Gatya and Neon Dreams are in terms of skill and enthusiasm for the medium. You don’t have to be an expert critic to tell that everyone attached to this release is in love with what they do, and even if I hadn’t been introduced to this video, I have a feeling I would have pictured it looking this way in any case. It’s unfanciful yet bursting with life, which is a difficult combination for even the most successful of players to strike together.
Though I cannot speak for every critic and listener in the world, I have a feeling that this track is going to do well enough to where a lot of people are going to be interested in seeing a complete LP from Neon Dreams and Mthandazo Gatya sometime in the future, mostly just to find out how much depth they could explore in the studio together. Seeing them on the same stage would be just as exciting for me, but at the same time, what they developed as studio collaborators in this single is really too incredible to remain a standalone work.
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