As if implying duress in the stoic cadence of its picking, a solemn acoustic guitar welcomes us into the icy intro that awaits those who give “Where I’m Seen,” the new single from Dane Maxwell, a listen this season. We’re trapped, isolated if you will, in a cold, colorless setting where it feels as though the warmth of the sun has never been further away. Hope is fleeting, as is the accessibility of this minor key melody, but suddenly, when everything is at its darkest, Maxwell comes swooping in with a comforting vocal harmony that seems to instantly dispel all of the tension in the song. Much like the subject of the lyrics, the music in “Where I’m Seen” is a powerfully provocative entity that translates the fear, embarrassment and incomparable pain that comes with being bullied, and it is only through our singer’s chic serenade that we find some catharsis and light at the end of a grim tunnel. Dane Maxwell doesn’t come off like an unrehearsed rookie in this fabulous studio cut; on the contrary, he sounds like more of a seasoned pro than he actually is.
The poetry here is unforgivingly forceful and honest in nature, and it strikes a nice balance with the tender tonality of the instrumentation that keeps this single from becoming an all-out dirge. If there’s one thing that Maxwell would appear to be better at than most any of his peers are, it’s his assertive means of articulating the narrative of his track. He doesn’t even attempt to hide behind sonic smokescreens or lyrical riddles; he comes right out and names the adversary that he’s facing in these verses, and ultimately, confronts it with everything that he’s got. His artistry can best be described as a mixture of adult contemporary pop and more classical singer/songwriter stylings, but trying to compare his sound with anyone else in the industry today is, to me, a futile exercise at best. No one else is tackling this heavy of an issue with as much sensitivity as he is, and that alone makes “Where I’m Seen” a single that stands out among new indie music out right now.
I wasn’t aware of Dane Maxwell before hearing “Where I’m Seen” for the first time recently, but you can bet everything that you’ve got on my looking forward to hearing more of his phenomenally on-point material in the future. Maxwell tears through the stigmas in this song like no one else has, and while his melodies have a somewhat familiar sway that will probably make them palatable to occasional pop fans (whose knowledge of modern music rarely extends beyond the playlist of their favorite FM station), I think that calling his strain of songwriting anything but wholly original would be a truly reprehensible remark to make. He’s got plenty of time to grow into his sound a little more, but for what I look for in an emerging pop star, he doesn’t just have all the makings of being one of the greats; he’s straight-up working with a skillset that most players in this business would kill to possess.
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