At the intersection of poetry and sound, exists music.
Whether it has lyrics or not, contemporary music always has a poetic quality to it. You can hear the story of a song within its stanzas.
Annapurna’s “Henna” uses a short poem of lyrics to punctuate the music. It emphasizes what’s being played and guides your thoughts along the catchy sequences, but leaves the story up to the listeners.
For those that like the storytelling effect of soft rock, “Henna” leaves something to be desired. The message is vague, and there’s no sing-a-long moment. But for those that are interested in songs that skew on the more instrumental side, it’s worth a listen.
The most memorable part of the song is the focal guitar riff.
It trails along in a trance-like sequence, repetitive but in a reflective way. Notably, the guitar solo is a structured melody, not something that’s meant to sound improvised or like a separate feature. It is the story. This is common in rock music, but not so much so in pop, and soft rock finds its home somewhere in between the two. Annapurna fuses the two conventions to create something lightweight and poppy that still focuses on the instruments.
“Henna” is a song I’d like to hear live.
I feel like that’s when the song’s greatest strength–the skill of the ensemble playing it–would come through. The melody could have been written for a singer, but Annapurna instead chose to let the lead instrument have its own voice. It worked, maybe to a fault. I found myself wanting more out of the lyrics; I wanted them to measure up to how expressive the guitar melody was.
But even if soft rock guitar music isn’t your jam, you can tell what the bandmates are trying to do. They let their musicianship speak for itself, and it does.
Each section of the track blends seamlessly into the next.
This is by a lead singer with a subtle voice and an electric guitar that’s just bright enough to stick out. The vocals fade in and out like a lullaby or a whisper. So, every solo and singing break comes across as purposeful, not thrown together to fulfill the arbitrary pop song structure.
And while these subtleties may also be limitations for the tune–I can’t imagine myself humming along to this song so much as purposely playing it to meditate on–there’s no fatigue. No waiting for the chorus to come back as you listen to yet another repetitive verse. The song is finished and polished without sounding overproduced.
The song wants its listeners to have space to just listen. No interjecting of personal details, no opinions. Just a feeling: open, honest, and aerial in essence.
Stayed down on my luck (the liquor did it)
Drank down all my love (kick it quit it)
Don’t be so numb
Rise up young gun
The music video, which features aerial silk performers backing the band, portrays that feeling. It’s reminiscent of the gone-but-never-forgotten scene era. It helps expand upon that left-out story, but it’s still vague in nature.
But I think that’s what the band was aiming for on this track. Combining their music with literal visual arts like painting and silks, Annapurna’s appreciation for all things emotional shines.
However you choose to interpret your feelings, sometimes you have to let those feelings do all of the talking.
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