Not even the passion espoused in the shimmering piano introduction that greets us at the onset of “What Am I Supposed to Do” can match the emotion in Alexis Keegan’s voice as she begins to serenade us in these gripping bars that open her latest single. A love that she once thought invincible is now gone, out of sight but not out of mind, and no matter what she does, where she goes, who she sees or what this melody that she’s taking out for a walk has to say, there’s just no getting this missing person out of her mind. There’s a piece of her heart gone from her chest and it’s driving her completely crazy, but within the context of her wistful singing, we find an everlasting hope lying just beneath the surface that can’t be snuffed out.
At the first chorus, a little bit of percussion starts to slip through the cracks and enter the master mix with one mission in mind; defining the formless sway of the rhythm. With the bassline there to assist, the drums do exactly this while Keegan layers the melodies atop one another in a yearning lyrical climax that tugs at our heartstrings with impunity. The volume swells as all of the instruments find their groove and a set of backing singers start to fill in the ends with a choir-like resonance that doesn’t take any of the attention away from Keegan, but rather magnifies just how gilded a melodic growl she’s got in her war chest of talents.
The refrain jettisons away from the established rhythm of the chorus and tears at the minor key ambience that acts as a foundation for the main verses. Keegan’s voice keeps climbing higher and higher in an angelic show of strength, and just when it seems like she’s about to takeoff of the ground and fly out of the studio, she reins herself in and returns to the balanced rigidity that started us off in that unforgettable piano part at the beginning of the track. The instruments crash into each other; the guitar becomes a voice of optimism, the opulent keys fashion themselves as a new romance for Keegan to lose herself in, and the percussion guides us all into the sunset in one final sweeping sonic assault.
“What Am I Supposed to Do” creeps out of nowhere and pummels us with a lot of different emotions all at once, and although it’s got a couple of compositional contradictions that, on paper, might not fit in with the mainstream model as it currently stands in pop music, it’s not even remotely close to the realm of inaccessibility, regardless of how we break down its structure. Alexis Keegan has a big voice capable of expressing emotions that linguistics alone often fall short of conveying, and with a powerful backing band by her side, she gives up one of the more moving performances of the month in this single. I wasn’t very familiar with her work prior to hearing “What Am I Supposed to Do” for the first time, but I definitely plan on tracking her future releases as they go public.