Arunaja is a gospel and R&B inspired vocalist from Kochi, Kerala. Her powerful vocals and artistic presence led her to finish in the top three on ‘The Stage’ Season 2, India’s only English singing talent show in 2016. Trained in Carnatic classical music from the age of five, she grew up honing her inspiring vocal technique which she now tastefully blends into Western music.
She and her band of industry leading musicians are now based in Mumbai and have performed across leading festivals in the country including the NH7 Weekender. Arunaja’s debut single, ‘Broken’ was released by Universal Music Group. This was followed by the independently released ‘Cyanide’ in August 2020. The incredible songstress has released her third single “I’ll Never Be The One” recently, and that’s what we are reviewing here.
What do all great singers have in common? You can hear their greatness from the first note that they sing. This is exactly what happens when you press play for Arunaja’s “I’ll Never Be The One”. Yes, the strength of any song is more than just the singer, but Arunaja’s talent is too compelling to ignore.
She has a lot of emotion pouring out of her heart, and she has the perfect instrument (her voice) to make us feel all of it. That’s a very rare combination. She manages to be technically brilliant without sounding sterile and emotionless. Very few people can achieve that.
The Kochi Dynamo is well known for her explosive abilities to belt out powerful notes with ease, listen to “Cyanide” if you want to feel that power. On “I’ll Never Be The One”, she delivers the goods in a more restrained manner.
This isn’t a flex of her vocal muscles to blow everyone else out of the water, this is Arunaja utilizing her incredible ability to infuse emotion into all her words and make the listener feel everything that she is singing. Of course, there are some flourishes to punctuate certain vocal phrases but they hit you like a gently rising wave, rather than a tsunami.
Lyrically, “I’ll Never Be The One” talks about the delightful feeling of being in love, that feeling of finding yourself in a love-deep trench, stronger and more intense than you’ve ever known. “I’ll Never Be the One” is about love in its purest, most tenacious form, one that doesn’t shy away from promises and reassurances, for all of eternity.
Musically, the song is very well written and structured. Arunaja starts singing on an ambient piano/synth line and continues to build the ambience till the groovy beat kicks in. The delay and reverb laden guitars go a long way in building the song’s beautiful atmosphere and even the snare has a space-y sound. Just the perfect accompaniment for Arunaja’s amazing vocals.
As was the case with her last track, the production here is top notch and leaves nothing to be desired, especially for an independently released track.
With “I’ll Never Be The One”, Arunaja has added yet another stellar release to her small but fantastic catalogue. It has all the bearings of being a song that will never be the one left out of your playlist.
Verdict: New song, new style, same level of excellence.