Don’t believe the dominant narrative that pop music, across the board, has dumbed down to the point of no return. There are still sharply presented, satisfying performers and writers emerging on the scene with the promise of elevating popular song to a new level. The surface texture of Drury’s latest single “Trip to the Water” is glossy and quite stylish, but it’s backed up by a substantive approach to songwriting that reaches great lyrical and musical heights. Drury has a strong presence as a vocalist that comes, in no small part, thanks to superior phrasing and vocal control that conforms nicely to the arrangement. His successful modeling career has, undoubtedly, exposed him to a side of life that few young musicians can boast, but there’s equally little doubt that a musical journey that began well before his tenth birthday influences the quality of this song in a significant way.
Drury’s Southern California upbringing doesn’t have any unduly sunny effect on “Trip to the Water”. There’s some light post production touches enhancing the first quarter of the song, but the production leaves Drury’s singing untouched and he’s more than capable of carrying the performance with both the strength and subtlety of his pipes. His voice varies a lot through the course of the recording, but it has a theatrical sense of what it’s doing throughout that’s no doubt the result of Drury’s higher education in voice and talent shining through. The phrasing is top notch and lives out the song’s experience for listeners in a way that makes even its vaguest lyrical details comprehensible to listeners. He matches up well with the arrangement and sings along with the music rather than positioning his voice in contrast with the music and it results in a more complete listening experience.
The beauty of the musical arrangement doesn’t come in the expected ways. Drury does show a strong penchant for weaving a song together with all the right peaks and valleys, but he employs a relatively stylish approach to the sound that comes across as fresh and imaginative. The drumming, when it enters, puts a bold exclamation point on the song’s development up to that point and steers it through a memorable second half before retreating once again. There’s some guitar layered into the mix, as well, but this is a song guided largely by piano and a plethora of synth lines. The production gives the music a warm, kinetic sound that never relents and offers Drury a perfect stage for his own performance. “Trip to the Water” is as close to perfectly realized of a track as we can expect from anyone, much less a young performer, and sparkles with insightful artistry. This prodigious talent hasn’t yet established a lengthy body of work, but his handful of recordings thus far establishes him as one of the most promising new performers and writers in the pop realm today.