From the first second, Keep On demands your attention. Actually, I’d go further. I’d say it compels your attention to sit up and chow down.
What connects a song to its audience, and makes it successful? The voice, lyric, production, the musicianship? All of the above? No one answer is correct (and we can argue endlessly about how success is measured), but the single most compelling answer I’ve encountered is authenticity.
Keep On bleeds authenticity. We have a schizophrenic beast here that wears all of its badges loud and proud.
We have a soulful and jazzy guitar backing track, complete with laid back slides and sympathetic bass that picks out just enough juicy licks to let us know of the musicality behind the stripped-back production.
We have a voice that is mellifluous, deeply soulful and intensely personal. And it’s delivering a heartfelt lyric with a connection that modulates between barely reined-in abandon and gentle, considered precision. It’s a wholly dynamic performance that screams of a confident performer in perfect control of her instrument. It’s breathtaking.
The quality of the Beyoncé-esque vocal is beyond reproach and its humanity is complemented by the production decision to eschew auto-tune in favour of feel – a decision that augments every shred of the performance here.
The lyric, often sung on a hypnotic and repeating motif, is empowering and all-embracing and backed up with an exotic wealth of syncopated and jazz-inflected backing voices. It reflects a personal struggle, but can easily be applied to a lot of what’s going on in the world right now, making it pretty damn relevant! It could be an anthem or a meditation. So why not both?
It ends, way too soon, on a tremulous and emotive breath sound that’s as painfully beautiful and eloquent as the lead vocal, and Keep On will hopefully do just that, long after you’ve hit repeat and streamed it a few more times. And shared it with your family and friends.