Singer-songwriter Raena Jade has written a song for the end of summer.
That is to say, “Underwater”—Jade’s newest release—is about change, and all the uncertainty and danger that comes with it. It captures the indecision and introspection concomitant to the ending of things—in this case, the ending of a relationship.
Or is it the end? “Underwater” is intriguing in its ambiguity. During my first listen, I was sure that I was hearing the prelude to a breakup. On my second, I reversed my view, this time hearing a moment of reconciliation and love. Jade’s voice carries so much emotion; surely that’s a good sign for the relationship? Or maybe—I think again, re-reversing my verdict—I’m just hearing the last release of the emotional floodgates before the end.
Either way, “Underwater” tacitly highlights two things: first, that communication is vital to a healthy romance; and second, that communication is, well, difficult. Words can be misconstrued, intentions misread. And when your partner is uncommunicative, it can leave you feeling helpless. The “deep end” of the pool, once a place of intimate privacy and secret joy, has now become a symbol of isolation, of distance, of danger.
All these images are possible thanks to Jade’s lyrical skills, which are excellent—almost as if she’s scripted an unscripted conversation. Lines like “Gassing me up to feel your touch, I know you need as much as I do” manage to meld reality and allegory. There is both affection and exhaustion in her lyrics—helped, of course, by the rather dream-like quality of her voice. When her words linger, they seem to drift in the air like steam from her breath (especially with s sounds, as in “faster and faster ‘til I feel plastered down the coast highway.”). That alone is quite the visual.
“Underwater” is full of surprises beyond its lyrical quality. Its bridge is chanted to the heartbeat-like sound of drums, steadily accelerating. It increases in intensity, rises to a crescendo, seems to promise a return to the chorus, and then… stops. It’s an unconventional ending, but then, “Underwater” is an unconventional piece—either the most somber love song or the most hopeful breakup song of the summer.
Raena Jade is an artist of many talents and interests: equally skilled in songwriting and guitar-playing; equally comfortable in New York City and San Diego (no wonder she likes long car trips); equally fond of romance and heartbreak in her music. “Underwater” succeeds at many different things, but most of all it succeeds at telling a story that is both emotionally compelling and uncomfortably relatable. It reminds us what it’s like—scary, exciting, nerve-wracking—to float in the deep end.
Written by Alex Figueiredo