When an artist finds a niche that works for them, they tend to stick to that lane for a long while. The risk of pigeonholing yourself is as threatening as an actor only ever being seen as a single, iconic character. Sure, the character you played on that sitcom was great but now nobody’s gonna take you seriously when you try to take big swings in new genres and new roles. The scattered few that have been able to trapeze to and fro, ping-ponging between soundscapes and ambitious undertakings are rare — recently, Lady Gaga achieved the nearly unthinkable by establishing herself as one of the almighty forces of shock culture and pop anthems until she pivoted to… acting well enough to get Oscar-nominated after releasing a folk-rock album. It’s rare to see someone so centrally placed within the limelight managing to move with some sense of freedom, but it’s not entirely impossible.
Ashley Suppa is only just starting, but by citing Lady Gaga as a main influence in her work, there’s simply no telling where she’ll be this time next year, let alone next week. Her debut single “Trouble” feels indebted to the woman who wore a butcher-shop-chic dress of meat cuts in unexpected ways; there’s no pounding bass or lewd innuendos akin to Gaga’s disco stick, but there is an inherent sense of self and auteurism behind the songwriting. I can easily say that after a few spins, it seems like Suppa has learned all the right moves from Gaga without resorting to becoming an aspiring soundalike.
With the first quarter of the track feeling like a crash course focused on Suppa’s vocal harmonies and overall vocal performance before it pivots into a chorus showcasing her immense talent for crafting catchy melodies, there’s a defiant and unpredictable narrative at work with “Trouble.” The single begins in a cocoon-like stasis, feeling sensibly well-crafted yet cut from the same cloth as other modern pop songs, but the chorus blindsides all expectations in the best of ways and delivers on that Gaga promise, grabbing any angle you might have taken before turning it on its head. The rest of the song follows suit as it maintains the upbeat, metamorphic stance the chorus establishes, and the rhythm slowly invades even the most stubborn of wallflowers. The trajectory this song can have as a song primed for the summer is a notion hard to even properly form into words as it feels hand-designed, to a point, to evoke imagery of roller skaters and choreography/wardrobe straight out of roller disco.
While Travolta might not be throwing back on the white suit and platforms to dance to “Trouble” anytime soon (having a Fever in 2021, regardless of the day of the week, just isn’t the move), there’s an unavoidable catchiness contained here that audiences will certainly gravitate towards. A small spark that will eventually lead to an unstoppable wildfire in the career of Ashley Suppa, surely, as the future has never felt funkier and more attainable than it is now that we have “Trouble” on our minds.