Mati Lyons’ “Practice 4 Me”
Melodic notes of the most heavenly quality come fluttering out of the silence. They leave a reverberating trail of optimistic tones in their wake, but there’s something much more engaging about to come ripping through the implied rhythm that this first glimpse of Mati Lyons’ “Practice 4 Me” offers. Lyons assumes her place at center stage and launches into the lush lyricism of the opening stanza, emanating nothing but swagger and resilience in the process. A finger-snapping percussive track in the background sets up a pulsating drumbeat, but there’s nothing as powerful as the vocal, which is occupying the spotlight as if it were always meant to be there. Believe it or not, this is Mati Lyons’ first single, and it’s one of the most engrossing and hypnotic that I’ve had the pleasure of spinning this entire spring (by a mile). Not only does Lyons assert herself as a suave, urbane singer/songwriter in “Practice 4 Me,” but moreover, she introduces elements of jazz, old school pop and soul into a crossover R&B sound that is unlike any other I’ve heard this year.
The framework of this song is a direct reflection of the extremely diverse sonic profile that its composer enjoys. She’s working the verses with a slick pop prowess that would be enough to convince me that she’s got the right stuff to please both the left and right sides of the FM dial, but she doesn’t stop there. The grooves are pure R&B, and use an ambient bassline to explore the depth of the swing in their beats, but they’re never so elastic that we lose sight of the rhythm in the verses. You can call me crazy, but I could even classify “Practice 4 Me” as a melodic hip-hop tune if I wanted to, thanks to its super hooky harmony that manipulates the bass into a blistering weapon that Lyons has no issues taking command of. It’s all sewn together in an incredible patchwork, and though it could be streamlined a bit more than it is here, I think that its rough edges are perhaps its most endearing, and appealing, quality next to the actual substance of the music and lyrics.
Lyrically engaging, instrumentally evocative to no end and boasting more than a few cathartic moments to write home about, “Practice 4 Me” is a stunner of a debut single to say the least, and in my opinion, it’s the kind of song that we would normally expect to hear out of someone who has been around the block at least once or twice before. The fact that Mati Lyons is showing off this kind of talent without even having a full-length studio album under her belt speaks volumes about what she could do with the right setup to foster her creativity to whatever means she ends up seeing fit, and I for one hope that she finds her audience sooner than later. There aren’t a lot of young pop singers who are as open in their words as she is with us in this track, and were this to be a consistent element of her songcraft, she could become one of the first pop stars in a long time to be known more for their artistry than their controversial relationship with the press.