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Michelle Shafer Releases “Stranger” 

The first couple of bars in any track as essential to setting up a mood, and Michelle Shafer doesn’t come into her new single “Stranger” with any degree of hesitance at all. With her voice as the centerpiece of the music, she creates a melodic bedrock for this single that sprawls across the whole of both speakers like sunshine overtaking what was once a cloudy day, and despite the forcefulness of the arrangement beside her, Shafer’s singing easily sounds like the most powerful element here. “Stranger” isn’t made of boastfulness and an otherwise predictable pop construct that we’ve heard a hundred different times from just as many artists, but a collective joy from its singer that makes it just about impossible to deny her boundless natural charms.


When she gets into the chorus, there’s no stopping the momentum Shafer has behind her from the instrumentation and the groove of the lyrics in general, but she doesn’t sound out of control in the slightest. Honestly, there isn’t a second of audio in “Stranger” that features anything but deliberate stabs at an explosive baroque presence, most of which, I should add, are direct hits. This isn’t an artist who will need a lot of years to find herself and her stride as a player in or outside of the studio, but instead, someone coming into the game who knows what she’s looking to create and, perhaps even more importantly, what kind of aesthetic she can make her own.

In terms of production quality, this piece has all the trappings of a mainstream release sans the sugary finish on the hook. Simply put, there’s no discerning the bells and whistles on “Stranger” from what you would hear on the Billboard charts, but with regards to the substance of the material, I think this is presented with a little less varnish than what you’d usually come by just scanning across new playlists. Shafer has a certain ‘it’ factor that you can’t teach nor practice into existence, and it’s getting a showcase in this performance that I would normally expect from an artist who had already been around for a lot longer than she has in this industry.

There’s more depth to her sound that is yet to be explored, but as of this moment, I think Michelle Shafer is one of the more provocative Pop singers you could keep watch over heading into the summer. While there are plenty of vocalists who have the pipes to roll with the best in this business, there aren’t very many who can back up their singing prowess with the kind of compositional strength and performance awareness that Shafer so clearly rocks in “Stranger.” She’s got a long, bright road ahead of her. The charismatic and frankly engaging output she just delivered and her upcoming CD that is set to be released this July, puts a stamp on her future success.

Mindy McCall



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