2023 has been a great year for independent singer-songwriters, and out of the many that I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing in the past few months, Michelle Shafer ranks among the very best and brightest of the bunch. Her new single, “One Breach,” dropped April 17th everywhere that good pop balladry is sold and streamed, and though the buzz surrounding its release, has been quite hard to ignore (to say the least), I can confirm that it hasn’t been unjustified after taking in the track for myself over this past week. Much like the muscular fodder that preceded it in Shafer’s discography, “One Breach” is another beautiful example of what this talented woman can accomplish when nothing is getting in her way creatively.

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There’s no filler in this single, and by that, I mean that most of the standard studio fluff most of us have come to associate with top-tier pop music is completely absent from the mix. The bass line has a lot of girth, but it isn’t artificially constructed at all (the exact opposite, truth be told). The percussion is devoid of the hollow tininess that has become commonplace on the American Top 40 lately, and although there’s a lot of warmth in the lead vocal from Shafer, it’s obvious even to the most novice of critics that none of it is being generated by some sort of silly recording software. She’s the real article, and while this isn’t exactly bare bones in style, it’s not weighed down with anything fake.

Aside from my feeling that the production quality is quite sterling in “One Breach,” I will say that the meticulousness of the arrangement aided in the overall vibe that the beats give off here. Shafer’s voice is in the eye of the sonic storm, but make no mistake about it – behind her, there are a lot of intricately-woven melodies culminating in a single force that eventually comes undone at the track’s ultimate fever pitch. She’s using everything that she can to impart her narrative to us here; words, music, even the studio itself, and still she’s able to prevent the rhythm and rhyme from sounding overwhelming. That’s something that a lot of her more-seasoned rivals would spend a whole career trying to perfect, and she seems to already have it down to a science in this song.

HEAR NOW: https://michelleshafer.hearnow.com/one-breach?fbclid=IwAR2qwOwodbZ6muk7gTGGSZu85rEglCyv3MHcGpKu7oAMI9jnEBUcYnegFz4

I was only somewhat familiar with the music that Michelle Shafer has been recording before hearing “One Breach,” but I’m down to see and hear what she’s going to develop out of this current style in the coming years. This is a songwriter who wants to create her own path to the “TOP”, and while she’s letting her rebellious side show quite liberally in this single, she’s got enough self-control in the studio to make her work palatable to a diverse audience. Time will tell for sure, but if she’s able to stay on this present artistic trajectory, Michelle Shafer is going to be a major player as the next era comes into focus. Her next CD release happens in JULY and we are ready for it!

Garth Thomas