X-ARI never ceases to amaze me. This young Toronto native has put out a constant stream of terrific music since I began following her about 3 years ago. Each song tops the last one and sets the bar higher. Her latest release, “BSMI” demonstrates why; everything she writes and performs and records is authentic, springing from a life that hopefully most of us will never know, a life of mental illness. “BSMI” – Broke, Single, and Mentally Ill – is another chapter in the musical biography she has been writing for years to turn her pain into power. And along the way, she has developed musically and lyrically into a talent on the verge of stardom. “BSMI” is musically one of the best songs she has done to date and one of the best electro pop songs available today.
Written on a Sunday after she spent Saturday so depressed she couldn’t get out of bed she struggled up to turn her ‘Pain Into Power’ (her mantra as an artist / songwriter) by doing what has saved her from suicide and depression – she wrote a song about it, “BSMI”. But far from a self-indulgent dirge, “BSMI” displays not only her passion for songwriting, but her skill with her musical tools, with the flow of notes and words that can catch listeners and hold them tightly to her. The very essence of an earworm, you have to put “BSMI” on repeat because the beat is addictive and her voices even more so as it moves, sways, propels your feet and fills you with energy. Resistance to its hooks is futile because “BSMI” finds so many ways into the nerve grooves music has cut in your brain over the years.
Each time you listen to “BSMI” you hear more of the details she is such a master at – electronic accents, the backup voices, the breakdown where she tells you that “getting up has been….difficult lately”, before plunging back into the beat, the loops, and the swelling atmosphere of sounds. “BSMI” encapsulates a powerful, painful story into a head bobbing hit that truly turns her pain onto power – the power to make her fans very happy.
Patrick O’Heffernan is co-host of the LA-based, nationally syndicated weekly program, Music FridayLive! and is a music reviewer for online magazines Vents, The Hollywood Progressive and MusicJunkie. He has also co-hosted a national political talk show, The Fairness Doctrine, and hosted the “Uplinks” media segment on Saturday All Things Considered on NPR. He holds a PhD in International Relations from MIT, has been awarded an Emmy, four Addy’s, and a Webby-Honors, among other awards. He has published 5 books and ghost-written others. A project he co-launched, the North Asia Nuclear Free Zone, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. He serves on the Board of Netroots Nation.