Sāi – “The Top” & “Breathe” – universal, yet as personal as a fingerprint

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How many times have you come across a blend of electronic and pop music that is relaxing, stimulating and simply enchanting at the same time? I know, it’s a tough call. So when you find an artist capable of producing such soul-searching, and captivating soundscapes, you need to hold onto them dearly, as they are part of rare breed indeed. One such producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist is Sāi. We recently came across his singles “The Top” – a beautiful, seductive, mood-inducing track, able to transport your feelings to another plain, and “Breathe” – another mini masterpiece in manipulating your emotions and state of mind. In a world of beats and bombast, Sāi seems almost to gentle to be true. His sound is dreamy, vulnerable and urgent all at once.

Sāi has a fresh perspective, and his force of musical personality enlivens tracks that otherwise might sound like conventional electro-pop. His songs, like the rhythmic “The Top”, perform a kind of magic, with sentiments that feel universal to all of us and as personal as a fingerprint. The lyrics are vivid, but more suggestive than obvious.

The Top” is a subversive pop song that could get played on the radio, and also have suburban clubbers bopping their heads to a tune that is both empowering and uplifting. With lavish synths, prosperous basslines, personal writing, and an insistent drum beat, this track announced the arrival of an artist to watch.

Tender and personal but self-assured, Sāi’s follow up, “Breathe”, is a coming-of-age track that captures all the glory of his potential alluded to on “The Top”. Not only is it one of the best pop songs of the year but it propels the artist to the next level.

This is a heavy-hearted song that’s as light as a breeze, as Sāi recognizes the emotional intelligence and growth that occurs when we open up our hearts to someone else, even in the most dire and desperate situations. Sāi wears his heart on his sleeve as he reflects on events that could only be construed as negative, yet he paints them as a painful learning curve instead.

Sāi’s affecting voice is juxtaposed with intense heartbeat drums, resonant retro pianos, and angelic harmonies on “Breathe”. In his affect, production, and writing, Sāi telegraphs extraordinary sensitivity with his understated, but palpable sense of control.

“Breathe” is obviously an important record in Sāi’s germinating catalog, but that’s not why it’s in this article. It’s here because it’s a really damn good track. As a singer, Sāi’ has a lithe and confident grace to him. He can be breathy and emotional at the same time. Moreover, he is an able communicator. His singing often communicates more than the lyrics themselves.

Pop music has had a rough summer. While streaming numbers climbed astronomically all-around, the most popular songs, as measured by the charts were near unanimously based in rap and hip-hop. At any given time now only ten out of the top hundred songs on the national pop charts, are actually pop-based.

Underground pop artists have always existed, but I think Sāi with his ambient-pop sound, is one of the new wave of artists who can thrive in spite of the genre’s current state of stagnancy. “Breathe” is simply Sāi’s best work to date, and I hope that he’s able to find the most solid footing possible with this track, in the most precarious pop landscape in years.

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