Severine - Down the Rivers
Severine’s first single and the title cut from her EP Not Obsessed introduced the world to her unique mix of performing and songwriting talents and her latest single, “Down the Rivers”, is certain to further enhance her burgeoning reputation. Severine succeeds so well because she gives every bit of herself over to this material and it contains a powerful, plain-spoken eloquence that eschews poetic language in favor of speaking to the listener’s heart by bearing her own. Her immense vulnerability on display in the first two singles is contrasted against brightly lit musical arrangements that strike a perfect balance between pure pop sensibilities and substantive electronica touches. This is a tune with blockbuster commercial potential, but it never means Severine panders to her audience. Far from it; producer Anthony Gallo works mightily to frame her in the best possible light and it’s an unqualified success. “Down the Rivers” asks her audience to accept her on her own terms and, in return, she provides a gripping tour of her heart.
The song’s nearly three and a half minute running time never even seems that long and, as the song fades out, you’ll find yourself wishing it could go on for a least another thirty seconds. She’s expertly crafted this track as an unified listening experience with Anthony Gallo’s aid, the muted opening and conclusion bookending each other quite exquisitely, and the song sounds like part of the same recording experience rather than something patched together and labored over with an uninspired sense of duty. Severine is engaged with every passage and line but never slips into melodramatic wailing; instead, her voice bubbles with emotion and hits heights along the way that sound fueled with feelings ripped from the pages of her life. The utter lack of self indulgence isn’t something we typically associate with young performers and songwriters, but Severine is far from typical and moves through this performance with a confidence far beyond her years.
The instrumentation is largely electronic and synth driven. The standard knock on such instruments, that they sound too mechanical and don’t possess much in the way of human warmth, isn’t valid here as Severine and Gallo alike have obviously went to great pains to make sure that the musical experience is every bit as involving as Severine’s vocal and her lyrical content. She packs a world of experience into the words and music of a song that doesn’t even cross the three minute thirty second mark and, frankly, that achievement is notable, if not rather remarkable. The rich musical quality of this piece is only matched, if not exceeded, but the full throated heart and love she pours into the performance and it reaches far beyond what pop singer/songwriters typically aspire to. “Down the Rivers” is a rewarding experience on every level and an enormous second step forward in Severine’s blossoming career.