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Mychael Gabriel’s “Sunday Afternoon”

All the ingredients are here. Smoldering guitar strings. A seductive bassline. Drums itching for a spotlight to stand under. The velvety voice of a solid singer. These are all the right elements for making a smart pop song, and in Mychael Gabriel’s “Sunday Afternoon,” they’re put to use properly. Built on the back of a dreamlike rhythm that shifts between grooves and hesitant stumbling, “Sunday Afternoon” is a progressive composition with a psychedelic-style wallop that you don’t find on the radio very often these days, but I wouldn’t call it a throwback to some bygone era at all.

Contrarily, because of Gabriel’s focused, insularity-inspired lyricism in this track, there’s nothing about its narrative – nor its composition – that feels even remotely retro. This singer/songwriter has been gaining a lot of steam in the last year, and here, he asserts himself not only as a talented player capable of doing whatever he wants when the feeling is right but a conscientious poet who knows how to articulate bold statements simply (and beautifully) with the help of an unassuming melody in the foreground. 

Aside from the lyrics here, the melody that drives home the latter half of “Sunday Afternoon” is one of the focal points in the song. There’s so much intensity as we build into the more relaxed portion of the tempo in this track, and while catharsis is never more than a chorus away, the tension in the music is definitely what makes this number so hard to get out of your head. The vocals, much like the instrumentation that accompanies them, have a presence in the mix that is unfiltered, a little postmodern in comparison to the industry standard, but completely complementary to the harmony.

The sluggish rhythm that we begin with in “Sunday Afternoon” slowly but surely blossoms into a gripping, swagger-filled show of strength on the part of our leading man, but there’s never an instance where Gabriel’s voice isn’t the most powerful force to be reckoned with. He’s got the skills to get everyone’s attention even when the music behind him is conjuring up a storm, and that’s not as common in pop nowadays as some people might think. 

I just started listening to Mychael Gabriel, but it’s clear to me that there’s a future ahead for the singer/songwriter breathing life into this style of alternative music. I’d love to hear Gabriel toy with lo-fi a bit more, and maybe even some wave-style content, in the future – to some degree, “Sunday Afternoon” shows shades of both genres in its bones. He’s got so many different directions that he could take his sound in, but for the time being, I would recommend he remain as committed to songcraft as he has in the last year or so.

There’s still a bit of depth in his style yet to be explored, and with the right tools in the studio, I think he’s going to find his place in the mainstream pop hierarchy a lot sooner than later. I’ll be staying tuned, and I would encourage you to consider doing the same. 

Mindy McCall



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