In the new single “Second Time” by rising star Ferera Swan, atmospheric melodies are met with ground-shaking lyricism in a battle for the ages, captured inside of a mere five minute pop song. An evocative ballad that pulls no punches, “Second Time” boldly tackles the subject of adoption, with Swan slicing through a wall of brooding harmonies on the back of a searing poetic drawl that is truly and uniquely her own. There’s no shortage of emotionality in this song, but one element typically found in debut singles from pop singers is starkly absent from this tune; artificiality. Swan bears it all to us here, and isn’t afraid to deliver her message free of the cheaply designed frills that often weigh down similarly stylized music.
Swan’s provocatively designed poetry is mirrored in the rigidity of the arrangement of this track. Instrumentally, “Second Time” is a mammoth of a ballad, utilizing minor gaps in the strut of the percussion to put a strong emphasis on the vocal parts. Everything, and I mean everything, centers around the singing, with the music bonding itself to the very sway of Swan’s enunciation. As articulate as it is imagistic, one thing that really surprised me about “Second Time” was its startlingly smart use of prose that aesthetically equals the lumbering, elegiac quality of the beats that cushion it. This alone sets it apart from the majority of music currently adorning the top slots on the North American Billboard charts, but I don’t get the impression that it was necessarily deliberate – Ferera Swan’s style strikes me as authentic in every sense.
The keys that generate most of the definition in the central melody are neatly tucked into the master mix, but nevertheless remain one of the most brilliantly constructed draws of the song. They express this vivid sense of tragedy that is then countered by the playful string parts, together forging a sort of duality that is at once jarring and yet comforting on some deeper level. One has to wonder, if she’s already producing music with this kind of substance at such an early stage of her career, what Ferera Swan will be capable of after several years’ experience inside the booth. This is only her first single, and it’s got more prowess and intrigue than what a lot of her peers are producing two or three albums-deep.
If one thing is for certain, it’s that “Second Time” demonstrates huge potential from a highly skilled singer and songwriter who doesn’t need a lot of assistance from external forces to dish out a memorable melody in this sterling solo offering. Swan is only at the start of what will likely be a long journey into the bright lights of stardom, and though it’s hard to tell where an artist will end up based solely on their debut, I have a good feeling that she’s going to ascend the hierarchy of indie pop a lot sooner than later. Her comfortability in the studio translates into the music that she’s recording, and if the momentum she’s experiencing at the moment continues to pick up in 2019, she’ll be crossing into the mainstream in no time.