New Jersey based alt punk folk rock songwriter and performer Lily Vakili’s new single “She Wants What” continues blazing an upward trajectory for a multi-cultural artist who transcends genres and labels. “She Wants What” is the lead-off release from Vakili’s upcoming EP release Set of Seven and sets an authoritative tone for that seven track collection thanks to its convincing anthemic hard rock character. Producer and engineer David Amlen captures something close to the qualities of a live Vakili performance in a studio setting – no small feat/ Despite pursuing her musical vision in earnest only for a brief time, Vakili’s songwriting and recordings exude hard-hitting confidence far beyond the purview of typical artists at this stage in their development. She pulls the inherent passion of this song from the marrow of her own life; she has a background as a lawyer, disability rights advocate, a poet, actress, human rights researcher, and dancer. You can hear that bubbling to the surface throughout this performance.
The guitars powering “She Wants What” are cut from a proto-punk blues rock cloth. They snap and flare with such spontaneity it isn’t difficult to imagine that Vakili and her band cut this song live in the studio with the full band playing together in the same room. There are some dynamic shifts layered into the arrangement’s second half, but the order of the day throughout is, more or less, a headlong rush with minimal fuss adorning the recording. The rhythm section provides solid ballast for the performance, as well, without ever falling into predictable and uncreative patterns. “She Wants What” has, in particular, percussion hammering away at listeners while still retaining the necessary musicality to prevent it from ever descending into mindless bash and thud nonsense.
The lyrics share the same straight forward attitude we hear in the musical performance. Lily Vakili understands how to write in a way tailored to the song’s aural needs while still making a personal and succinctly worded personal statement. Lean economy pervades the cut in multiple ways and Vakili underlines this quality in the words with wide-eyed on point phrasing that pulls zero punches and imposes its will over listeners. She sings with total abandon, but it isn’t an artless yowl. She gives every ounce of herself over to the moment but remains cognizant throughout of her need to communicate with the listener rather than overwhelming them with sheer sonic velocity.
There are anthemic elements to this track, but it never plays it safe, follows a cookie cutter approach, or reeks of predictability. Accomplishing all this within such a condensed frame is a powerful illustration of the talent Vakili and her cohorts possess; as an early preview of what awaits listeners on her new EP Set of Seven, it promises that the upcoming release will be one of the most impressive of 2019. Anyone who hasn’t exposed themselves to Lily Vakili’s talents should make it a priority to hear this single and seek out the EP when its release date hits.