Cool, a little cocky, and a whole lot of sweet from a melodic standpoint, there’s no arguing whether or not Ajay Mathur has the chops to be a pop singer when turning up the harmonies in his single “Don’t Want the Phone to Ring” this season. He’s so comfortable with the studio, the instruments, the very act of putting himself under pressure inside of the booth just to get that perfect vocal when a song needs it, and though many are just finding out about him this month, he doesn’t seem all that poised to remain an underground figure for very long.
There’s a lot more to this song than just the sexy voice laying out our trail from the backwoods to the bright and sunny days every summer knows all too well. The interplay we’re exposed to from the percussion and the strings would have threatened to steal the thunder away from a lesser singer, but this isn’t to be the case as Mathur works from one verse to the next in “Don’t Want the Phone to Ring.” It’s his show all the time here, I bet the same could be said even in the performance of a recognizable cover tune.
Mathur isn’t simply weaving the words he sings into the fabric of the instrumentation, but calling upon the textures and tones these instruments yield in sculpting a proper narrative well outside the limits most linguistics are confined to in this genre. He’s a musician who won’t shy away from utilizing subtle and minimalistic componentry if it means making his sound that much more tangible, or his lyrics just a bit more relatable than they already would have been on paper. That’s dedication and honest experimentation, the latter of which I think we can all agree pop music needs a lot more of nowadays.
This mixing style favors the percussion way more than it needed to, but if Mathur was worried about his groove getting lost in the haze of harmonies here, I suppose I would understand why he created the instrumental construct he did for this performance. Truthfully, his voice is the percussive center making elements soft and structured the same work in perfect time together here, and if this isn’t the hallmark of an artist who already has a signature, I would ask you what is. He’s everywhere, and yet not making the music so personal we’re unable to get past the emotion of the verses.
Pop is finally starting to sound clean again after close to a decade and a half of unrehearsed players trying to break their way into the genre’s mainstream – crashing in the most awful ways a critic or a legit fan can witness, mind you – and I think the driving motivation for the dramatic change comes from the same underground giving us artists like Ajay Mathur right now. Mathur is indie right now but with a handsome knack for harmonies like his, the big leagues are bound to call him up sooner than later.
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