Pendulous grooves fused with a molten hot melody make up the framework of The Lori P. Davis Project’s “Hell 2 Pay,” the latest and possibly most jarring single by the eponymous singer to date. Cut from within the studio but sounding like a real stage-maker, “Hell 2 Pay” flirts with more of a pessimism than the other tracks out of her scene have lately, but it also contains just enough of an ominous beat to make it more geared towards mainstream soft rock fans.
We start with a blistering melody that ushers us into Davis’ vocals, which claw their way into center stage through an otherwise iron-clad ocean of angst-ridden vibes. The tempo modulates ever so slightly in the chorus; out of the heavens, a monolithic lyricism emerges, pushing and shoving us into the clutches of a guitar part as charged with emotion as anything else here is. There are a lot of little details just beneath the surface of this cosmetic churning taking place in the melody, and if one were to listen closely enough they would discover just how cerebrally constructed this song is.
Davis’ vocal attack in this single contrasts heavily with the instrumental framework coming to life in the background, but I wouldn’t call it a surreal juxtaposition. It’s almost as if the players in this band are going at each other with the subtlest of daggers, hurling chunks of harmony in every direction in hopes of perhaps striking down something in the muted melee. This isn’t to say that the production level is somehow amateurish or muddled; in fact, this mix boasts a physicality that is rarely present outside of progressive soft rock releases on the mainstream side of the dial.
Fundamentally speaking, Davis isn’t sticking to the alternative script by scooping the EQ of everything; she’s adhering to the pop standard, which in my opinion adds a texture to this song that is simply spellbinding when played at higher volumes. Her rock influences are proudly worn on this single’s sleeve, but to call this anything other than an original slice of pop potency conceived purely within the realm of Davis’ artistic identity just wouldn’t be true.
As intense as “Hell 2 Pay” gets (especially in the second chorus) there isn’t a second in which Davis’ singing ever drifts from the center of our attentions. Her voice is so refined, poignant, and elegantly woven into the balladic stabs being delivered by her band, and despite the muscularity of the music her performance never blends into the background. I don’t think she’s reached her full potential yet, which says a lot when you consider how spot-on this song is for today’s discerning pop aficionados. Sleek enough for casual fans and tightly packaged enough for more ardent listeners, “Hell 2 Pay” does something that very few singles in its genre can do; it captures the persona of the artist behind its creation without overindulging in said musician’s most glamorous attributes. This is a pivotal release for The Lori P. Davis Project, and with any luck will be only one of many stunning singles Davis will release in the months and years that lie ahead.
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