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“Comfort” by Trevor James

“Comfort,” the new single from rapper/singer/songwriter Trevor James, has got critics raving this January, and after spending some time studying the track over the past day, it’s pretty clear as to why. James takes a somewhat classical rhythm and gives it a contemporary makeover in “Comfort,” and with his golden pipes leading the way, slices through the verses adorning every illustrious string groove effortlessly. His style is a heaven-sent change of pace for a winter that was leaving a lot to be desired in the pop department, and that’s putting it rather mildly. 

The rap parts in this song are intriguingly juxtaposed with the poppier melodic elements we encounter in the main harmony, which are a bit more aggressive in execution though much quieter in the master mix. The strings start a small war with each other in the first half of the track and spend the second wrapping themselves tightly around the melodic ribbonry that James dishes out with ease. His lyrical linchpin is firm and yet strikingly soft, but it keeps the more abstract elements in this single from drifting into overly experimental waters. Nothing about “Comfort” is fragmented; it’s obvious that a lot of time went into constructing this piece to be as well-rounded and balanced in tone as possible. 

These drums are light, effervescent, and airier than they need to be, but they’re a rather textured component of the song nevertheless. James’ vocal pushes back at the ebbing of the percussion in the chorus, and there’s even a moment before the potent pop refrain where it feels it’s going to come spilling out of the speakers into the room around us. There’s a ton of oomph in the EQ here, but it’s carefully curtailed by a steady production hand behind the glass. 

There’s a sense of urgency to the rhythm in “Comfort,” and though it lends to the anxious energy in the beats, the tempo never feels rushed next to James’ pendulous singing. He takes his time with the verses, and rather than sounding out of sync with the rest of his band, his voice sounds like the crown jewel of a multifaceted pop symphony. His time studying his craft inside of the studio is on full display in this single, but I think that his refined skills aren’t nearly as praise-worthy as his organic tonality, warm singing style, and genuinely endearing approach to lyrical prose. 

It’s still a little early to tell how far this sound will take him, but the potential that Trevor James shows us in “Comfort” is going to propel his name into the spotlight this year. Pop fans are a hard crowd to please, but this indie-styled fusion of minimalist rhythm and modern melodicism is almost certain to get people interested in the music this man is trying to make his own at the moment. This isn’t the only song in the underground that can induce chills on demand, but it’s probably the most polished and radio-friendly of the lot I’ve heard in recent months. 

Mindy McCall



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