BMA single review by Vince Leigh
The new track by emerging Australian singer-songwriter Rachael Coltrona begins subtly, with the analogue synthesis of an old-school drum machine and the equally retro twinkly pad augmentation.
But Complicated quickly turns into a dance-funk grooved, out-and-out pop tune, with the requisite dynamics, builds, hooks and most persuasive of all, on-point lead vocal performance.
When considering the verses’ slightly mournful melodic structure, we might anticipate that we’re in for something less attuned to pure pop nuances, a sense that the pre-chorus also seems to indicate, despite its chants and steady climb up. However, when the chorus arrives, the sound intensifies, along with the drum parts and a syncopated bass pattern, which utilizes a mini rhythmic skip for enhancement.
Rachael’s vocals veer from the verses’ lower registers to the chorus’s relative highs with ease and self- assuredness. This comes as no surprise considering her backstory, her roots in musical theatre and her 2017 WAAPA graduate credentials. Rachael was also featured on the cover of John Madara and David White’s You Don’t Own Me to great acclaim in late 2022.
So what is Complicated telling us?
Clearly, we are again exploring the tangled web we so often weave. Of course, for Rachael, as is bravely presented here, the story is personal.
As she says, ‘Complicated is about a song about being in a situationship (a romantic or sexual relationship that is not considered to be formal or established) and about releasing and maintaining control of your situation, before completely falling for someone who you know is not right for you. The inspiration came from personal experience with someone who was flirting with the idea of keeping me around while not really committing to anything. Kind of going nowhere fast but not wanting to accept it.’
Complicated is a melodically resonant song layered over a contemporary soundscape that takes some cues from the not-so-distant past. The production’s clean and shimmery surface makes just the right fit for Rachael’s skilfully rendered observations.