There is something fetching to me about songs in which the rhythm guitar functions as the lead guitar–when resolute strumming characterizes the accompaniment rather than any sort of fingered showing-off. “What Is Next?” is a showcase for this concept, a song built on a swinging cadence, dictated by the rhythm guitar’s determined syncopations and suspended chords. Against this backdrop of her own doing, Lucy Francesca Dron sings with a cagey, unleashed elegance, landing halfway between a ’90s alternative rocker and a jazz singer.
The guitar’s relentless, recurring chords give “What is Next?” a circular feeling, accentuated by the song’s amorphous structure, with chord-driven verses that lead to no particularly identifiable chorus outside of a few theatrical repetitions of the title phrase. The second time we get there, the song veers into a free-form bridge (2:26) with run-on, scat-like lyrics–as bravely jazz-inflected a section in an indie rock song as you’re likely to hear. Overall the song manages to feel simultaneously determined and light-footed, and presents as a breath of fresh air in our over-processed, hyper-algorithmic times.
Lucy Francesca Dron is a 21-year-old musician from Brisbane. “What Is Next?” is the third single she’s released since a debut EP back in 2017. A new EP is slated for later this year.