Nya already established herself as the balladic answer to an overly perky pop sound a long time ago, but with the release of her new single “The Real You,” the critically-acclaimed singer and songwriter is reaffirming qualities within her artistry that many had hoped would be staples of her style. Rather than trying to adapt to the ways of an increasingly postmodern competition, Nya’s total rejection of camp and giddy self-awareness in her work has led to a lot of praise from the press and fans alike, and in “The Real You,” she’s getting as stately and tender with her words as ever.
Percussion is very much a present factor in the master mix of this song, but make no mistakes about it – Nya and Nya alone is the driving force behind the rhythm in “The Real You.” Her sweet lead vocal is strong enough to shape the groove, but she’s not even being especially physical with her words; if anything, her lack of muscularity is lending an implied urgency to the beat that wouldn’t have been present here otherwise. She ushers the instrumental backdrop forth with ease, and her lyrical command of the listener hasn’t changed at all since the arrival of her debut.
There’s so much power coming into the chorus of this track that it’s almost hard to imagine where the climax is going to draw focus from, but by the time we get to the center of “The Real You,” lush melodicism has replaced the need for a more intense, direct fever pitch. Nya is using all of the energy and charisma behind her in this performance to get our emotions tensed beside her own, and it isn’t until the completion of the song that we get to experience the catharsis she advertises so brilliantly with nothing more than a harmony.
Although it might not have been her goal here, there’s no getting around how well Nya proves her grace and assertiveness with these lyrics, and I haven’t any doubts as to whether or not they’re coming from her heart rather than a purely creative source. She isn’t searching for a narrative in this song but instead giving us facts as her soul already knows them, which is a far cry from what a lot of her closest rivals would be doing in a similar set of circumstances. This is big league songcraft, and anyone who really appreciates balladic pop will see that.
As I expected as many as three years ago, Nya is blossoming as a composer and a performer right now and making it obvious how badly a player of her talents is needed in the pop genre at the moment. She’s not striking away from the mainstream themes we’re used to hearing on the FM dial so much as she’s making her own way of communicating with a mass audience, and her use of duality could be one of the most exciting parts of her sound moving forward. Nya tells us stories from two angles in a song, instrumental and lyrical, and they come together in a really beautiful manner in “The Real You.”
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