With an oversized beat to lead the way, Harper Starling leans into what could be one of her most dynamically vocal-centric performances to date in “Snow Cone Christmas,” currently out just in time for the holiday season everywhere quality indie-pop is sold and streamed. Although steeped in the conventionalities of contemporary pop and traditional Christmas music the same, what makes “Snow Cone Christmas” such an eager, easy-going piece of music is the personality of its singer, who makes it clear early on that she’s no run-of-the-mill pop vocalist giving us her take on what the holidays ought to sound like at their warmest.
The harmony Starling confirms in the chorus here is a little sugary – arguably more than it has to be – but I like the way she interweaves it with the percussive pulse in the backdrop. The drums are getting as much love from the master mix as any of the melodic componentry is, and were this not the case I’m not sure that the structure of this song would be as rock-solid as it is in this scenario. Say what you will about cosmetics, but this is a player who knows the value of traditional pop songcraft.
I absolutely love how focused Starling’s compositional wit is in “Snow Cone Christmas,” and her swinging groove allows for her to get as loose with the lyrics as she would the drums in the background. She isn’t waiting for the band to set the tone for her in this performance; she’s upfront with the biggest and brashest of beats laying out a harmony that will linger in your brain long after this track has come to a conclusion. Her swagger is impressive, but not even the most important element of her presence when considering this single in its entirety.
This arrangement bears a lot of elegance and doesn’t push any of the instrumental facetings ahead of the vocal – instead, it feels much as it would in a live performance. I haven’t seen Harper Starling take to the stage yet for myself, but her attitude with the mic in this piece is one so strong that she probably wouldn’t have a hard time taking over any venue she played, no matter how big or small it happens to be. Time will tell for sure, but she’s definitely cultivating something of note in “Snow Cone Christmas.”
I’m going to be keeping an eye on Harper Starling through the holidays and beyond, and if you’re curious about why so many of the critics have been left intrigued with her persona, “Snow Cone Christmas” is a good place to start. This vocalist is sure of herself and who she wants to be in the recording studio, and though I’d heard her music before coming across this gem, I really underestimated how much she’s working with at the moment. She’s evolving before our very ears, and with the right exposure on both sides of the dial this season she’s going to get the attention she’s worked so hard to receive.
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