True Blue explores forgiveness in the playful, childlike “No Water”

“No Water” is the first True Blue single since 2018’s self-released EP, Edge Of.

You might know her better as the bassist and co-vocalist of experimental synth-pop outfit Porches, but New York City-based artist Maya Laner has been writing, producing, and performing music via her solo project True Blue for a couple years now. Today marks the release of her delightfully curious “No Water,” the first True Blue single since 2018’s Edge Of EP, which featured dreamy, enchanting tracks “Bad Behavior” and “Tell Me Texas.” Last year’s project found Laner tailoring Porches-esque soundscapes to her playful voice and unique worldview, and while “No Water” paints with a similar palette, it also explores some new territory and hints at what might lie ahead.

Opening with mandolin-like guitar plucks, the arrangement is soon filled out with cheap keyboards, a MIDI bass line, an odd beat to fit the song’s 3/4 time signature, and Laner‘s expressive vocals that at once suggest the conversational mundanity of Greta Kline (aka Frankie Cosmos) and the grandiose affect of Joanna Newsom. As the lovely melody keeps you wondering where it will go next, it runs counterpoint to the equally lovely bass line of the verses and double guitar line of the chorus. In the second chorus (and again in the final twenty seconds), Laner layers her voice to create angelic, childlike harmonies — a perfectly fitting addition to a song that’s just begging for a children’s choir in the background.

Lyrically, “No Water” — which explores the complex relationship between forgiving and forgetting — is simple but cryptic: “I wrote Lucy a letter of advice / See no evil / Hear no evil / Drink no water.” And by the end: “You know what you did / You know what you said / I keep it dry / I choose to forget.” As Laner explains of the song:

It is a devotional script, a spell for healing. It is what will set me free and keep me frozen in time forever.

In other words, it’s a struggle, but — grudges be damned — forgiveness overrules memory. It’s a subtly subversive point-of-view and it just might be the only way for some of us to successfully navigate living in this crazy world.

Jeremy Quist

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