In the video for her new single “So Amazing,” multitalented R&B harpist Mariea Antoinette commits herself to making a classic variety of instrumental music that has become increasingly difficult to find on record store shelves in the last few years. From the jump in this track, it’s pretty obvious that Antoinette isn’t looking to be typecast by the industry or critics like myself – as much as she might look like she has a lot in common with the mainstream progressive R&B scene as we’ve come to know it in recent years, this is a player who dares to be different with the substance of her songcraft more than anything else.
Though her influences are on her sleeve from the start, the hook in Mariea Antoinette’s “So Amazing” isn’t necessarily a throwback to the heady harmonies of the slow jam era on its face. There’s a trace amount of evidence that this artist is someone who thought a lot about what a proper ballad is supposed to be when studying the ascent into the chorus here, but the actual sting of the climax is more efficient and daring than it is classical in stylization. It’s a good mixture of the familiar and the experimental, which are two elements that are difficult for any artist to successfully combine.
I dig the muted swing in the beat, especially as we get a little deeper into the track and its companion video, and I think it’s pretty clear that Mariea Antoinette values soul music as much as she does the traditions of jazz and moderate funk here. She’s putting so much emphasis on the stomp of the beat that there are even a couple of occasions on which the percussion out-swells the harp play (which is saying something about its grandiosity for sure). She’s trying to drive home a point to us with both texture and tonality, which is more than can be said for some of the bigger names on the Billboard charts this December.
Mariea Antoinette proves once and for all in “So Amazing” that instrumentals don’t have to include a lot of big solos to get us fired up with their melodic wallop, and this isn’t to say that the harp on its own doesn’t impart enough sizzle to satisfy serious listeners at all. There’s a smooth balance of elemental sonic attributes in this single that doesn’t let us accuse its composer of being one-dimensional by any stretch of the imagination – it confirms her depth as an arranger, and more importantly, as a performer in the modern age.
“So Amazing” is a decadent treat for all who love melodic revelry, and the last time I checked, that was quite a few of us indeed. Mariea Antoinette wants to be a part of bestowing vitality in her style of music for a new generation of listeners to appreciate, and for this, I commend her efforts sincerely. There’s a lot of buzz around this piece, and once you hear this for yourself, I believe you will understand why audiences are making the fuss we are.