Breathe is the perfect sound for the modern music fan, just the right blend of old school familiarity and new ideas and the result is a slick and groove-laden, R&B infused track, one perfect for the clubland dance floor and pop picker alike. There was a time when R&B sat on one side of a certain musical divide and music deemed cooler or more cultish sat on the other. One of the aspects of our non-tribal, post-genre musical world, is that as the various barriers have been kicked down, as rules and traditions have been abandoned, the more commercial has been allowed to merge with the underground, or more importantly a whole generation of musician has grown up not even knowing that those restrictions even existed.
This Toronto artist, therefore, represents this balance of old and new, traditional sounds and modern exploration perfectly blended as she merges skittering R&B beats with more cultish underground vibes, rock muscle with pop infectiousness. Throw in a soulful vibe and some gospel hints and you have something rather special. The result is music that will both connect with the pop crowd but also has mass appeal to the more discerning markets, music which is at once inventive and clever but without being anything other than a cool, sensual and accessible pop record, one that feels like chart positioning and mainstream radio play is just around the corner.
As a teaser for her latest release Crave, this is a track that neatly sums up why we need to throw away our old prejudiced and divided ways at looking at music genres and embrace a new and holistic musical age. For Erica James does that most rare of things, she makes pop that sounds both grown up and wonderfully infectious at the same time. Throwaway pop is two-a-penny, it always has been, and that is pretty much the nature of the beast. But pop written specifically for a more mature audience generally misses the point, taking itself too seriously and forgetting why it came into the room in the first place. Breathe, however, is the best of both worlds.
It hooks, it zings, it pops and it certainly grooves, it is infectious and accessible but it is also cleverly put together, sassy, soulful and groovesome, and it adds an unexpected lyrical astuteness to this often misunderstood genre, so much so that the end result is nothing less than deep and meaningful pop.
In short it is pop in an evening dress, pop with an eye on the long game, pop reaching its full potential. Pop with a PhD? Maybe it is just another throwaway pop song, but one that you will want to keep forever! Whatever will they think of next?