Lena Fayre’s talent and hard work has earned her quite a push from nearly every quarter. She’s won a plethora of songwriting awards, including The John Lennon Songwriting Award in March 2016 for her song “Ophelia” and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers 2015 “I Create Music” EXPO Opportunity winner. These are impressive laurel leaves for any artist, but Fayre’s nineteen years on the planet scarcely seem like enough time to garner so many honors. The novice listener will understand why she’s received such fulsome praise less than a minute in on her latest single “Cry”. Her music is often classified as “electropop” and discerning listeners will understand why, but such labels are ultimately unimportant. This is top shelf and fully rounded pop music with a distinctive artistic sensibility.
The heavily syncopated programmed percussion gives the song an insistent pulse, but Fayre isn’t content following it exclusively. There are a number of interesting tempo shifts, some subtle while others are more obvious, giving the track stronger musical weight. It’s married to simplified and strong bass in the mix. The keyboards and other electronica are sparingly employed, but when Fayre opts for incorporating, they emerge at astutely chosen points and help bolster everything.
The song’s strongest musical qualities are Fayre’s voice and vocal melody. She has an extraordinarily delicate tone, almost crystalline at certain points, but it never restricts her ability to convey surprising gravitas. She’s perfected a hushed theatricality that neatly dovetails into her dramatic, seemingly autobiographical lyrics. It’s a dangerous thing assuming that a songwriter working in first person is directly referring to themselves, but Fayre’s mix of defiance and vulnerability enhances the lyrical content either way.
The lyrics have a remarkable plain-spoken poetic quality and the same lean focus defining her musical structures. There isn’t a single wasted word in this rueful and regretful text. Fayre’s vocal melody and muscular writing maximize the song’s potential and elevate far above the level of cliché. The song’s accompanying video reinforces these points. It underscores the song’s melancholy air without relying on heavy-handed imagery or tropes. As a result, the song, like the video, seems like a deeply felt and skilled embodiment of emotional damage.
Lena Fayre, with each successive single, continues building a reputation justifying the critical praise and wholehearted support she’s received. “Cry” is her finest achievement yet and stands among the year’s best thanks to its fully realized creative vision and capacity for entertaining a broad cross-section of listeners. This is sophisticated pop with unstated ambition and shockingly relaxed confidence. There’s little sense of Lena Fayre straining too hard for effect or ringing inauthentic. Few career trajectories are developing like Fayre’s – her climb towards stardom has been inexorable since it began in 2013 and this is a crucial step in her continued ascension.