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“River of Forgiveness” by Wai Lana

Melodic flexibility is one of the most important attributes a pop musician can have, and in her new single “River of Forgiveness,” singer/songwriter Wai Lana establishes herself as one of the more versatile voices coming out of her scene at the moment. Wai Lana has quite the reputation as a yogi, and it can be said that she’s bringing many of the same skills she uses in one field to another in this song, which has the fluidity I would expect from more of a mainstream release than I ever would anything out of the underground. She’s got incredible talent, and it’s getting the full spotlight here.

The fun swing of the percussion is a nice addition to the groove in this song, but the beat itself is driven primarily by the verses, especially in the soft manner they’re delivered to us by Wai Lana herself. She can be delicate as well as assertive, and if there was any debate as to whether or not an indie pop player would be able to do as much this summer, “River of Forgiveness” proves that there’s at least one artist currently trending in the underground capable of doing so.

Unlike a lot of the pop I listen to, there’s nothing fake or synthetically added to the lead vocal in this mix; it’s all Wai Lana and nothing else.

We’re not hearing some altered version of what we would get out of her performance in a proper concert, but instead, the organic melodicism of a performer who is more than capable of issuing a powerful slew of statements with nothing more than her voice and a textured backdrop to straddle. It will be intriguing to hear her in person for myself, but for now, this is a track that was designed to give us a taste of the real thing.

Wai Lana’s music video for “River of Forgiveness” is striking and matches up well with its soundtrack, but I didn’t need to see it to feel the epic quality of the music as it stands on its own. A good video for a song of this variety has to have certain cinematic elements that wouldn’t work as well in a straightforward pop release, and although slightly progressive in nature, there’s no debating whether or not its creator is structuring her sound off of a traditional model as opposed to anything radical.

It hasn’t been very long since I was introduced to her music for the very first time, but Wai Lana is absolutely a name I want to be seeing a lot more of as the year presses forward. She’s singing with an unmistakable passion in “River of Forgiveness” which makes me hungry to hear more of her bittersweet harmonies in the future, and as of now, I would have to say there’s nothing about her approach that I would recommend changing. You don’t mess with a good thing when you’ve got it, and that’s what this player has in her new single and music video.

Mindy McCall



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