Ashley Delima follows up the inspiring success of her single “Stay in America” with her latest offering “Cigarette” and moves from strength to strength. This incredible young singer and budding songwriter is touched with something of the divine – a voice capable of reaching your heart with apparently little effort thanks to its wide ranging emotional weight. She has the instincts of a performer who has been doing this for years, but there’s never any sense of a paint by numbers approach – she never sings anything the same way twice and brings personal stakes to bear with her interpretation of the lyric that helps make it a charged listening experience from the outset.
The songwriting is a result of work between four individuals – Ashley Delima, producer Marc Swersky, Alex DeMaio, and Brielle Brown. This composition by committee might suggest the track is a fragmented experience with too many cooks spoiling the broth, but far from it. Their vast experience in the music world gives them a keen understanding of exactly what sort of talent they have with Delima and they unreservedly give her the best possible material for her vocal skills. Delima makes the most of the moment. Her phrasing is varied, never resting for a single line, and committed to singing like her life and heart depends on the outcome. Given the song’s subject, it might very well. She sings this like it is something she has lived and the suggestions of catharsis running through her voice are unmistakable.
One of the hallmarks of her approach is how Delima aims to fuse live music with understated electronic instrumental sounds into a cohesive whole. Other artists have attempted to do this without experiencing even a modicum of the same success we hear with this song – instead of workmanlike, this sounds quite inspired and one can only assume it is the result of Delima and her collaborators being on the same page in regards to the song’s goals. Bringing a second voice into the song, hip hop performer $tandard, could have proven disastrous, but it’s an astute choice – he shapes his voice to fit well against Delima’s own and they have interplay that’s obvious from his first line in the song. They share the same chemistry in the song’s video and it’s easy to suspend disbelief, at least for a moment, that he might be the subject of Delima’s singing.
This song is quite an experience. We are right to expect much from Delima following the stunning success of her first single “Stay in America” and it’s remarkable to hear how easily she shifts from the topical nature of that song into the interpersonal minefield of “Cigarette”, but she doesn’t it without ever breaking a figurative sweat. Her EP Young & Unafraid is set to drop in early 2019 and this will undoubtedly be one of the centerpiece moments in that release – rightly so. It’s a smooth, textured single with considerable depth and never strains listener’s attention. Instead, by its conclusion, you’ll likely wish it would go on forever.