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“Ride or Die (Shotgun)” by Amanda Holley

Amanda Holley unleashes a lyrical tidal wave upon us in “Ride or Die (Shotgun),” and despite the heavy emotion seeming to accompany even the most casual of statements within her retrospection, the drive she’s got at the mic is something to be marveled at here. Amanda Holley is stationed in the underground, but she brings a lot of mainstream moxie into this all-new single and its video, both of which are out now and making a lot of positive waves for her young career. Her lyricism is spot-on, and her execution is stunning, but above all else, her attitude is one that immediately made me think of the iconic singers to have come before her.

Holley is searching for an extended catharsis in her verses, which in turn spotlights the yearning in her voice as the emotional center of the composition. Her tone is moody, but her actual construction of the narrative is fluid and consistent. I think that she would sound just as good singing something a little less intellectual by design, but given the fact that she’s able to croon something so linguistically stimulating without having to abandon any of the melodicism she would be able to indulge in were she simply harmonizing with a piano, I think more folks need to be talking about what she’s done in this track. “Ride or Die (Shotgun)” has a curious title, being that its contents are less reliant on contrast no matter what kind of taste in crossover pop you’ve got.

I think it’s plain to see that Amanda Holley isn’t holding back here, but I also would place a pretty big wager on the notion of this being but a fraction of the skill she could bring to the stage in a live performance. The way she lays into the chorus alone makes me want to see what she can do in front of a large audience, and where some might liken her sound to being that of an iconic lounge singer, I think there’s enough in this piece alluding to her showmanship as to make it known how great a depth she has. There’s no limit to what she can do in ideal circumstances, the best of which are going to come her way with this continued dedication to the music.

2023 has thus far, and admittedly somewhat surprisingly, offered us an interesting chapter in the history of R&B and pop music, but I don’t think there have been nearly as many vocal-centric players like Amanda Holley winning the love and approval of critics and fans lately. Holley has it all, from the voice to the rhythm, and even the sharp lyrical attack we’d never see coming from a mile away, and while she isn’t being excessive with the surreal componentry in her sound as a lot of her rivals would, that’s part of her charm. This artist goes her own way, and if you stick around, you’re going to see her become unstoppable in the next few years. To me, she’s among the best in her scene at the moment.

Mindy McCall



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