Equally at home in a jazzy speakeasy or a sold-out stadium, Drowning is the genre-flitting pop single from Australia’s own Holly Riva.
Holly Riva has taken aim at toxic relationships on Drowning, a jazzy pop gem that serves as the singer-songwriter’s latest single. Layered harmonies in the vein of Billie Eilish open the track, with Riva’s vocal delivery so raw and intimate you feel as though you’re right there in the booth with her.
Drowning initially coasts by on sparse production which forefronts Riva’s vocals, with only the subtle punch of finger-click percussion and the sporadic tinkle of piano keys.
What begins as soft-spoken balladry later transforms into something groovier and more soulful, as Riva enlists a 70s-sounding bassline and the regal flair of brass instruments.
There’s a sleekness to the production (courtesy of Kanye West collaborator Swavybeats), which introduces ear-catching textures without overpowering the angelicness of Riva’s vocals.
The thunderous quality of a trap beat is never outdone by Riva’s enrapturing ad libs, just as the string sections work to compliment her voice rather than drown it out.
Riva manages to package elements of jazz, soul and R&b within the confines of a radio-ready pop song, to the point where you can imagine Drowning playing everywhere from a bygone speakeasy and to a sold-out stadium.
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The immaculate production is equalled by Riva’s vulnerable lyricism, which sees her lament a relationship that “hurt me [and] poisoned me.”
So infuriating is Drowning’s muse — who left Riva “drowning in the desert sand” — that you’re forced to root for her escape. Like the brightest pop star’s before her, Riva possesses a candid frankness, and bares her soul with incisive lyrics seemingly torn from her own diary.
“Drowning is an outpouring of emotion, a reflection of life’s complexities,” Riva said in a press statement. “It’s an honour to share this piece of my soul with listeners, and I hope it adds to the soundtrack of their own journeys.”
Drowning adds to an already illustrious few years for Riva, whose 2022 debut EP A Memory was met with international acclaim. Earlier this year, her previous single Love Who You Wanna Love was nominated for Best Song at the Hollywood Independent Music Awards.
But now, with Drowning as evidence, it’s clear that Australia’s own Holly Riva is just getting started. Listen to Holly Riva’s new single below.