Elegant isn’t a word that I use a lot with new pop music, but that’s exactly what comes to mind when listening to the way that Dane Maxwell’s vocal straddles the bassline in his new single “Where I’m Seen.” The acoustic guitars are the source of the melodic tension in the air, but the gritty verses are giving us an evocative depth that makes their chime so much more tortured in tone. We’re on the wrong side of a lynch mob, hunted by the minor key harmonies that are spewing from the speakers, but our fears are culled by the emotive crooning of Maxwell, who is here to save us from all the treachery of a divisive planet in his immaculate debut release.
The drums get a little aggressive in a couple of spots, but the vocal keeps the track feeling even and focused on the smooth stylization of the music. These beats aren’t at all blustery, but they’ve got as much oomph as the guitars do; they’re the critical linchpin between the bass and the rest of the string parts, and I think that if they weren’t as temperamental as Maxwell designed them to be here, “Where I’m Seen” wouldn’t feel nearly as sobering.
This master mix favors the string section as much as it does any portion of Maxwell’s melodic singing, but I found myself constantly distracted by the vibrato on the finish in the guitar parts when I first listened to this single. There aren’t any moments where it feels like the two elements are competing for our attention, but instead there’s a plethora of instances where their harmonies make their shared passion seem as though it were one entity instead of two. The chemistry in this song is simply sizzling, and it’s something I really want to hear more of soon.
I pick up a lot of anger, resentment and intentional rage in the way that Maxwell takes the chorus in “Where I’m Seen,” and it isn’t restricted to the words he’s belting out alone. The tone of his voice tells me a part of his story that immediately makes his life relatable to my own, and I don’t think that I’m going to be the only bullying survivor to say as much once this song is released. He’s not masking his pain with any musical muscle here; he’s showing us the damages he’s sustained, and asking us to be as courageous as he has been in showing the world our own scars.
Airy rhythm, metallic melodies, amazing guitar harmonies and a lead singer who has been around the block make “Where I’m Seen” a smash hit for Dane Maxwell, who I can now confirm is absolutely worthy of all the praise that he’s been getting for his work lately. He’s making pop music with a conscience, and that’s not exactly a popular trend right now in contemporary music. It’s obvious that he isn’t stopping with this song, nor this issue, and I think that as the 20’s roll into focus, he’s going to become one of Iowa’s most discussed singer/songwriters and hotshot young activists.
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