Free and legal MP3: Becca Richardson (delightful, confident debut)

“Wanted” is a cool delight from start to finish, smartly crafted and produced in a most matter-of-fact way.

Becca Richardson

“Wanted” – Becca Richardson

“Wanted” is a cool delight from start to finish, smartly crafted and produced in a most matter-of-fact way. What begins as a bass-driven groove expands fluidly into a succinct, three-part song, with strong hooks in all three sections—verse (first heard at 0:13), pre-chorus (0:47), and chorus (1:03)—with each part nestled snugly against the next, while also offering nuanced additions to the soundscape. The climax at the chorus is sneaky-great, featuring a sly two-step reveal: the central question “Doesn’t it feel good?” sounds like a stand-alone as it’s asked three times in a row, only then to show itself as incomplete—the full question turns out to be “Doesn’t it feel good to be wanted?” The shift is subtle but affecting.

I’m impressed throughout by the clean and dexterous mix. Calling on a judicious bag of aural building blocks, “Wanted” feels all the richer for how nonchalantly the blend works. Bass and drum get us going, synths and guitars join in, each entrance at once precise and casual. I like, as an example, the guitar chords that slash in as background accents starting at 0:32, and especially appreciate the dissonant chord we get at 0:34, first of a series of quietly off-kilter accents. The pre-chorus follows, highlighted by swelling backing vocals and an underwater-y synth line deep below. The chorus then anchors us with psychedelic guitar blurts.

Not to be overlooked through it all is the enticing suppleness of Becca Richardson’s voice. She sings in slightly different registers in each of the song’s three sections—subtly shy and sultry in the verse, open-voiced and full strength in the middle part, and in the third a higher-register version of sultry, minus the shy. Among Richardson’s strengths here as both singer and songwriter is how little she strains to call attention to how good she is. It’s an unorthodox stance in our YouTuber age, and that may be at least part of what lends an old-school vibe to a song that otherwise zings along with solid 21st-century chops.

Richardson is based in Nashville. “Wanted” is the opening track from her debut album, We Are Gathered Here, which was self-released in October. You can sample it and buy it on iTunes. MP3 via the artist.

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