With a vocal swagger that has the potential to become a trademark in her music, Taydem Shoesmith starts her new single “Are You Clapping?” without hesitating to conjure up the most potent harmony that she and an organically melodic instrumental backdrop can. Her voice is stained with a bittersweet melancholy, a sense of longing that can only be satiated by the sly meandering of a graceful beat. The drums aren’t all that aggressive when they step into the fold, but there’s an urgency to the rhythm of this track that we can’t get away from.

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Shoesmith might not be a household name as of yet, but in “Are You Clapping?,” she gives us more than a couple of reasons to believe that she’s intending on becoming one before we know what hit us. 

The first chorus in this single is a lot more patient in style than the second one is, but I think it’s key for the audience to notice the aesthetical differences between the two. As we find ourselves in the palm of Shoesmith’s hand in the refrain from the first explosive release, there’s a lot less bass surrounding the verses, giving us a clearer view of what’s transpiring between the vocal and the percussion in the middle of the mix. Like two lovers’ hearts beating in perfect synchronicity, they’re almost inseparable as the grooves start to tense up once more, alluding to a torrid romance that only becomes stronger after trials and tribulations test its durability. Shoesmith’s words aren’t the only poetry here; when we get down to brass tacks, every component in this song is telling us a different piece of the same story. 

As far as this master mix goes, it didn’t need to be as meticulously designed as it was, but for a critic like myself, I certainly don’t mind the attention to detail at all. Shoesmith takes a lot of aspects of her sound more seriously than many of her peers would, and though some might say that she goes further than she has to in some parts of her music – such as in the defined muscularity of a rather balladic “Are You Clapping?” – I love the fact that she isn’t leaving anything to chance when she greenlights a song for mass release. That’s something her more commercially-inclined counterparts ought to try sometime, if for no other reason than to experiment with their own sonic limitations. 

“Are You Clapping?” concludes with only a glimmer of the fanfare that it starts with, but as is the case with many of the top-tier pop songs that I’ve reviewed in the last few years, this number doesn’t need a skyscraper-sized ending to impart a meaningful narrative to its audience. Taydem Shoesmith has been on the scene for a minute now, but she isn’t showing us anything but talent in the music that she’s selected to show off her skills. Her presentation and the structure of “Are You Clapping?” both present us with some awesome avenues of getting to know who she is as a performer, and I recommend sitting down with this single when it debuts this New Year’s Eve. 

Garth Thomas