The beat is alive with an intensity that is intimidating but not deterring. The spotlight quickly turns to Kelsie Kimberlin, who steps up to the microphone with a tremendous amount of confidence as she starts to sing the first lines of her new song “Fruit Basket.” Each word slips away from her lips and hits us with a glowing warmth that I could get used to quite easily. The enormity of Kimberlin’s presence is undeniable in this single and its companion music video, which is arriving on record store shelves at a time when it feels like pop is about to get a lot more boisterous than it has in the better part of the last generation (which is no small statement to make). Indeed, “Fruit Basket” is a star among Kimberlin’s growing discography, and for my money, it’s one of the sweetest new independently-cut pop songs that fans can get their hands on this month.
“Fruit Basket” is different from other singles that Kimberlin’s rivals have released before in that it demands a lot out of her broad vocal palate. The harmonies in this track are no joke, and you don’t have to be a music critic or even an audiophile to recognize that. Even in its most menacingly difficult moments, “Fruit Basket” is incapable of giving Kimberlin anything she can’t handle from a singer’s perspective (intentionally, I imagine), and she demonstrates just how slick her vocal style is in this single without being arrogant or particularly boastful.
It’s undeniable that she’s got a lot to be proud of here – the chorus is rigid and the path that we take to get there is rocky, to put it quite mildly, but she clobbers the complications others would have struggled with through an aggressive approach to the lyrics that leaves plenty of room in the mix for the instrumentation to crater us with its evocative textures. This is likely the most engaging song focused on making us want to dance that has come out in the past couple of months, and though it’s not structured like a radio pop single per se, it’s got an unassuming hook that will take your breath away no matter how many times you’ve listened to it.
I think Kelsie Kimberlin has come into her own with the release of “Fruit Basket,” and while I’m ranking it as among my favorite songs of this variety to debut in 2023, I don’t think that it dwarfs the charismatic tracks a lot of critics have been buzzing about this winter. Kimberlin has got a lot of different dimensions to her play, and she hasn’t given us two layers that feature the same set of blueprints in this singular performance The Latin pop influence that she’s employing in this single exploits everything that her skillset has got to offer us, and were she to make an album totally out of this style of material, I haven’t any doubt in my mind that it would be, at the very minimum, a breakthrough LP for her career and perhaps the scene she’s coming up in right now.