Showing off her powerful vocals in her new ‘adult ballad’ single, “Are You There”, Ali reminds us of the popular old K.I.S.S. principle — “keep it simple, stupid!”.
To get straight to the point, I really like the dichotomy presented in this song. While the lyrical content speaks to a complex issue in the breakup of a long marriage, it is expressed, musically, in a very typical and simple pop-ballad form. Was that done purposely? Probably not. But, just because it was not intentional, doesn’t give it less significance in an artistic context.
The result is quite beautiful. I’ve touched on this before, but often simplicity is the best tool when trying to convey complicated emotions. Harmonically, it’s as simple as it gets, really. It’s quite predictable and doesn’t explore any potentially unique textures or colours that could have given the instrumental support more ‘life’, but I’m not sure that is a fair criticism either. The music doesn’t always need to match the intensity of the lyrics that drive the song. This is especially the case with a lasting melody such as this one.
Overall, this song doesn’t blow me away or anything but I think it does a good job of doing what it was set out to do. That is usually the case for many ballad releases — and there is nothing wrong with that!