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“FLOAT (The Cowgirl & The Alien)” by Denise Marsa

Country music can have an urban bend, and when it does, it often feels like an entirely fresher genre altogether. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing the matter with having something pure in aesthetics, but singer/songwriters like Denise Marsa, who can put a spin on just about anything and make it their own, have a special place in the modern pop conversation for sure. Marsa’s new single “FLOAT (The Cowgirl & The Alien)” flirts with a lot of eclectic influences for sure, but at its core, it feels like a country-folk crossover into alternative rock territory that we didn’t even know we needed to hear this summer.

The textural output of the guitar parts in “FLOAT” was something that garnered my attention right out of the box, but there’s no denying that it takes a backburner to the ghostly charm of the vocal on more than one occasion. When Marsa is commanding our attention with her voice, it’s hard to pay attention to anything going on in this mix, which is why it was helpful to push the instrumentation back from the spotlight just enough to give this singer all the room she needs to really expand into the depth of the arrangement.

This lead vocal is awfully fearless, and as we get deeper into the song, it becomes clear that the charismatic sway of one Denise Marsa is the most powerful force to be reckoned with in this single, even if it does come from a rather soft vocal in more than a couple of instances. She’s just so bewitching with her Josh Homme-style swagger ahead of the verses, and even without the presence of raging electric guitar parts, you can tell that the heavier side of music has had an influence over how she approaches a piece like “FLOAT (The Cowgirl & The Alien).”

I like that the percussion is rather muted in this song, and had it been any hardier in the grander scheme of things I don’t know if the rhythm would feel as intoxicating as it does in this minimalistic setting. By keeping the groove centered on the delivery of the verses and not the thrust of the drums, the beat is more consistently immersive for the audience, which is a far cry from the back-burner foundation it would usually serve as in a song like “FLOAT,” or any conventional pop track for that matter.

Denise Marsa has quite an exciting look to offer her listeners in “FLOAT (The Cowgirl & The Alien)” right now, but if we’re looking at the cohesiveness of this composition more than we are at its surface-level cosmetics, it’s obvious that this is just a taste of what its creator has in store for those who are still listening. This is a big era for singer/songwriters, but of those who I am paying closer attention to heading into the midsummer season, Marsa has a wit and a pearl of musical wisdom that is pretty hard for even her most talented of rivals to keep up with.

Mindy McCall

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