A barnstorming lead vocal performance sits front and centre in this epic slow-burn of a tune that starts off with a gospel-tinged arrangement: softly-sung unison backing vocals and some simple piano stabs set out Witness’ stall early on: ‘I won’t be a witness’.
The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and so the song begins to build. Handclaps are introduced, followed by subtle elements from the drum kit, and Blake’s vocal starts to transition from gently emotive to an open-throated semi-belt and then on to something more full on, and with edge and fire – showing something of the character of Celine Dion or maybe Katy Perry circa Firework. It’s a showstopper of a vocal.
The bass end arrives properly, lending warmth and filling out the sound. A church organ makes its presence felt, lending some apparent ecclesiastical authenticity to proceedings. Blake’s impassioned lead vocal soars atop the whole shebang. There are some very real vocal gymnastics going on here.
Blake has made Witness to highlight the plight of thousands of migrant children that are being held in American detention centres. A message at the end of the accomplished YouTube video reads ‘together we can free them’, and encourages viewers to donate and get involved.
As the tune climbs back down to repeat the soft vocals of the intro, we’re left to pack up the bunting and consider what we’ve just witnessed ourselves. Well, music that isn’t designed for elevators and supermarkets demands that we should listen; pay attention and not be simply witnesses. Witness passes the test, it definitely deserves attention to be focussed upon it.