Building on a beat is one of the most conventional ways to develop a pop song, but nothing is feeding into the status quo in the new single “Morning in the Dark” from N.C. Palma. Palma’s vocal is a dagger right off the top in this track, and even if the song wasn’t as rhythm-oriented as it feels from beginning to end, there’s no denying the depth this player has when he’s forming a beat with little more than his own verses. Everything in this piece was designed to make us want to move, and yet the sonic value of every component is off the charts.
The vocal is supremely melodic in “Morning the Dark,” and this isn’t because of some fanciful synthetic buffering, but instead a direct result of the disciplined delivery that Palma is offering from behind the microphone. There isn’t anything he isn’t in control of when he’s singing, and the influence of traditional hip-hop over his execution is a little hard to ignore when breaking down the fluidity of his release in this single. He’s got agility, an ability to manage a big groove, but he doesn’t have to be all that virtuosic in this performance.
Although absent from the big picture, there’s still a bassline buried somewhere in this mix that’s affecting the tonal presence of the song as a whole, and overall I think going with a clandestine low-end element for “Morning in the Dark” was better than utilizing a large and in charge bass part. The latter would have nudged this composition closer to the category of predictable pop music we’ve heard a hundred times over from just as many artists (but fail to remember the names of either), and while it’s a more daring move for most players, it’s not something that seems intimidating to Palma at all.
Tone is evidently something of great importance to this artist, and were that not the case I don’t think he would be stressing the role of the instrumentation and his harmonies in the mix as much as he does in “Morning in the Dark.” Had he wanted the beat to be dominant above the essence of the hook, he could have produced a clubbier version of this track and probably saved some time in the studio, but that just wasn’t the goal with this recording. He’s got a story to tell, and he’s going to use melodicism to convey it to us.
I think that, no matter which angle you’re looking at this track from, “Morning in the Dark” is a surprisingly crisp ballad that seeks nothing more from its audience than a chance to inspire our bodies, which is where a lot of similar content falls short right off the bat. N.C. Palma has a voice that can do well in just about any setting, and had I not listened to this latest track and checked out its companion video, I might not have recognized that as readily as I will after hearing “Morning in the Dark.”
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