What makes music so significant is the way it lends itself to listeners on a personal level. Either because of or despite an artist’s intention, individuals can draw infinite meanings from a single song. They can make it their own, even if a billion other people love it too. It can elevate the most meaningful experiences and make them completely unforgettable. Couples use music to capture what can be one of their most momentous milestones—their marriage. They want their special song to be sentimental. Maybe it was playing when they first met; maybe it epitomizes their journey in words; maybe they want it to be their soundtrack as they present their first dance to family and friends.
Philadelphian singer/songwriter Jake Adler’s latest single, “Effortlessly,” is everything one would hope to find in a wedding song and more. It’s his debut single as “Jake Adler,” and it’s a departure from his earlier work. He cut his teeth as Adler XCVI, earning well-respected music blog features, television syndication, and accumulating over three million streams. He’s back with a new outlook, a rediscovered sound, and a strong single now available to stream and share. He’s channeled his romantic inclinations away from the melancholic and into the idealistic. The song is laden with inspiring hooks, tasteful harmonies, crisp production, and beautiful performances, but its standout quality is perhaps its sonic perspective.
It firmly establishes itself as a song about a person madly in love—eager to take the next step and fall in even deeper—but it skirts the upbeat, formulaic semblances that most artists rely on when they write music with this theme in mind. Adler opts for a darker sound—one that results in a piece more so about the bottomless passion between two people than simply about their union. Marriage is about more than just saying “I do” to someone you’ve known for a long time. Adler is saying, “I love you,” harder and with more conviction.
You can feel it in the chord progression. Most of the song revolves around a IV V vi ii structure. Adler avoids the tonic—building tension constantly. It’s worth mentioning that despite the I chord being an easy choice to round the progression out, he expertly replaces it with the ii chord. It’s much more interesting and just good songwriting. There’s also the climb from the IV to the V to the vi. It makes his declaration feel climatic, emotional, and striking. Remember Elliot Yamin’s classic, “Wait for You?” This has that same smooth pop/R&B presence with its arrangement and strong vocal performance.
My folks have been married for nearly 35 years, and they still talk about their wedding song: “Heaven” by Bryan Adams. It becomes an everlasting token in a time capsule two partners create when they choose to take their next step. There are a lot of love songs out there, but Adler tackles the difficult task of writing one without being overly-sentimental, and instead crafts lyrics about a topic you know in an original way. He does this by making it personal—he taps into his own feelings and ignores tropes or clichés that many artists fail to avoid. Adler is quick to define his style in this debut. He lays the foundation with a minimal, yet expansive acoustic guitar part, decorates the melody with a Demi-Lovato-esque vibrato, and wraps it all together with a cinematic, orchestral outro. “Down on one knee / Effortlessly” is bound to become a hook that holds meaning for couples celebrating their anniversaries, or for those taking the plunge in 2021.
Written by Matt Kalicky