Eclectic and Intriguing, Grace VanderWaal Returns with New Music!

Rating: ★★★★★

 ec·lec·tic   /əˈklektik/

adjective

  1. deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.

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Eclectic. It’s a word that distills the very essence of singer/songwriter Grace VanderWaal into a single definition—if that’s even possible. To those who have followed this young lady since her rise from YouTube vid kid to international musical acclaim, she’s simply a breath of fresh air in a world of sound-alike pop pablum.

“Stray,” VanderWaal’s latest single and video, pairs Grace’s raspy vocal with a lush, jangly guitar riff that sends this new music in a direction much different from her previous work. And this is a good thing. It’s a sign of maturity and of a fresh approach—rather than an attempted re-capturing of what has already been accomplished.

Her words are poetic and cautionary, filled with real and raw emotion. An undertow of fear and urgency is detectable just below the surface of her mournful voice. The anxiety of growing into an adult and facing a world of uncertainty is a central theme the singer has discussed in recent interviews.

“’Stray’ is close to me,” she explained. “Not because it’s the re-start of my continuing path, but because it explains the exhilarating fear and freedom of growing up. Growing up feels like a storm you weren’t prepared for. But how do you prepare? By practicing and appreciating you.”

Her lyrics in “Stray” illustrate a fear of losing that one thing that has brought her this far: songwriting.

I gotta write a song

But I wanna feel my words

And I keep getting it all wrong

Think it out, write it out, rip it out

Throw it all to the wall

To be certain, this fear is unfounded. She hasn’t lost a step in the songwriting process. If anything, she’s unveiled a greater prowess in crafting melodies and moods and words within her music.

The video for “Stray” is a gorgeous visual steeped in creamy, earthy tones splashed across a canvas of loneliness, longing, and desperation. The desert setting finds Grace, garbed in a long flowing dress and barefoot, searching for something elusive and undefined—a yearning common to human beings since the beginning of time. Symbolism adds to the rich scenery, with VanderWaal riding a bike through desert scrub while blindfolded, adding to the narrative of, not only the song, but of its creator, and her incredible journey in just under three short years.

Director Blythe Thomas skillfully captures mood and vibe and real feeling with an artistry one would expect from a master filmmaker. Her partnership with Grace routinely produces stark and unforgettable results. If you aren’t familiar with the director’s work, I recommend you visit her website. CLICK HERE

The song itself is a haunting piece of guitar-driven beauty—which is something we don’t normally hear in Grace VanderWaal’s music. It is this driving guitar that adds an indie-rock element throughout the track. It stands in contrast to the “Clearly” single, released last March. And “Stray” would show out as markedly different among the tracks on her brilliant Just the Beginning album. This is what elevates her above the mechanical, formulaic pop singers inhabiting today’s musical landscape.

Grace’s music has soul. It has life. It sounds the way music is meant to sound—alive.

13 thoughts on “Eclectic and Intriguing, Grace VanderWaal Returns with New Music!

  1. Larry Beehler

    Such a great review. You’re one who really understands what Grace is all about. She doesn’t produce the drivel that is called Pop music today. Truly she is a breath of fresh air.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
  2. joey west

    I don’t know Beem. I am reluctant but this song is decent. It is Adele-ish. Pink-ish. Gaga-ish so it doesn’t seem very original or clever to me. However, I am pleasantly surprised that a glam-prone hard rocking wannabe seeks to reach out to other styles of music even if they are (also) positively mediocre.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      Well, Joseph, let me explain something here. This girl just turned 15 years old last month. She’s been recording since age 12. She writes her own music and creates the concepts behind her videos. And she just wrapped on her first movie back in November. There is nothing mediocre about this girl. I saw her in concert last year. One of the best shows I’ve been to (and I’ve been to nearly 40 concerts). I understand you prefer ABBA and Village People music. But don’t be afraid to come out of your comfort zone.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    2. Todd Baysinger

      Wow Joey, you don’t get it do you? Grace is an icon and the sooner you recognize her talent the better off you will be. Grace is far from a wannabe anything and I personally take offense at your comment and your attitude. She is an original from the start and brilliant beyond your understanding apparently. What were you doing at 15?

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  3. Daryl H

    Happy to see support for Grace. Hard to imagine that this is just the beginning of her career. She can go further than we imagine. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. beemweeks Post author

      I agree, Daryl. Grace is proving to be one of those rare once-in-a-generation type of prodigies. She writes and sings as well as anybody who has been in the business for decades. I’m excited for the potential and promise she holds.

      Like

      Reply

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