Severine – Not Obsessed
“Not Obsessed”, a selection foreshadowing this young artist’s first EP, is Severine’s first major release as a solo artist and bodes well for her career to come. It has a dense sound that is, nonetheless, rather light on its feet and has her distinctive voice at the center of it all giving it a signature shape. Her influences from bands like Radiohead and Muse is quite discernible in this track, but it’s Severine’s passionate personality that comes through louder than anything else. She’s intelligent, playful, and sensual all in the same package and inhabits the song like a singer with decades of experience. The decision to cease playing in bands and present herself as a solo artist, embracing electronica, was a bold one and the first result from it, “Not Obsessed”, indicates that the move will pay off handsomely for this talented new artist.
The lyrics are far more intelligent than your typical pop track, yet they remain accessible throughout. This isn’t an immediately relatable experience depicted in the song, but Severine’s writing invokes emotions familiar enough that it isn’t completely shut off to listeners. Her phrasing shows the influence of the artists mentioned in the introduction, but it also has a jazzy unpredictability that nevertheless retains its musicality throughout. The phrasing and emotional investment she brings to the material is more common to hear from much more experienced performers and she tailors her voice to the arrangement enough that her voice works, in essence, as another instrument. The seamlessness of this listening experience is obvious from the first and stands as one of the single’s greatest qualities. Severine and producer Anthony “Rocky” Gallo (Norah Jones , John Legend, Common) collaborated on the song’s composition and the producer invests “Not Obsessed” with the sort of grandeur one might expect from high brow pop.
This isn’t merely something to bop your head or shake your backside to. Severine’s songwriting obviously intends to make an intensely personal statement, but she once again shows the instincts of a much more experienced performer with his avoidance of self indulgence. The arrangement largely relies on a soulful, light-footed groove while mixing electronic instruments with other sounds like piano and moves through a variety of changes that make sense and carry listeners deeper into the performance. The common knock on electronic music is that it sounds too artificial and cold, but Severine’s take on the form never lacks warmth and retains enough of a spare, artful quality that it sounds rather organic and of the moment rather than something inordinately plotted out. Severine’s upbringing and musical training has placed her in the unique position of being able to compose and perform indelible work at a young age. “Not Obsessed” is an impressive single and works as a promising harbinger for the EP release to come. This is a performer who will continue hearing from and she packs the kind of talent into this tune that we associate with legendary careers.
Photo credit: Todd Muchow.