New Single By Stringz EMB “Save Me”

“Maybe before I save you,” KV the Writer sings on the soulful new single “Save Me” by St. Louis R&B and hip-hop singer and songwriter Stringz EMB, “I should try to save myself.” It’s a reasonable rejoinder to a desperate request for a lifeline and an acknowledgment that those who ride to the emotional rescue of a lover are just as unprepared for success as they are for failure. It’s natural for people in trouble to reach for each other, but when they do, they’re likely to find togetherness as challenging as solitude.

That’s the dilemma that Stringz EMB and KV the Writer (with warm, smooth, sweet-as-honey background vocals from the multi-talented Jay Marie) explore in the beautifully written, heartfelt verses to “Save Me.” In language that’s alternately poised and urgent, the two artists make their desire for romantic connection palpable — but they also signal their unreadiness for it. Structured like an exchange between lovers, “Save Me” tells parallel stories of a pair of young people stumbling toward each other, holding on for dear life, and wondering whether it wouldn’t be wiser to let go.

If that sounds like a lot for a pop-soul song to accommodate, it is. But Stringz EMB specializes in fitting big feelings into smooth, club-ready packages, and his ability to inhabit his scenarios and articulate complicated concepts has made him a legendary figure in the St. Louis R&B underground. In KV the Writer, he’s found an ideal accomplice: a young vocalist who makes interpersonal predicaments come alive for the listener in unsparing language and powerful images. The production on “Save Me” is sultry, sleek, and engrossing, and it foregrounds the song’s undeniable hooks. But the real special effects here are the two singers, who make every word and every syllable count.

Miguel Orjuela’s elegant clip for “Save Me” underscores and intensifies the song’s themes. We’re shown a couple coping with the fallout of a stroke of good fortune: one partner gets a job opportunity overseas, and the other is left behind in a stylish but austere apartment that reflects his desolate inner state. His texts go unanswered, his appeals do nothing to change his fate, and even his fantasies turn against him. It’s telling that Orjuela and Stringz EMB don’t depict their characters as conventionally troubled people. They’re successful young city dwellers who seem superficially happy together. Yet they lacked what it took to save the relationship — and what it takes to save each other.

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