Jana Pochop - 'Lightning'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this afternoon’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Jana Pochop, a folk-pop songwriter who cites influences the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin. Her newest single, ‘Lightning,’ is available to pre-order on Bandcamp now, kicking off as the first entry in a series of singles to be released by the artist this year. This particular song attempts to fully meld Pochop’s more folksy sound with an accessible pop sensibility, to which end she has begun collaborating with producer Daniel Barrett.

Pochop, for me, is a special artist. She was one of the first independent musicians that I highlighted on the Independent Spotlight when I began writing it nearly three years ago in July of 2014. This blog has evolved in a variety of new directions, and naturally, Pochop has come quite a ways in that time, too. She sounds more comfortable than ever. Listening back on that first album I reviewed, it remains lovely, but the production of ‘Lightning’ is so much more refined with crystal clear vocals and instrumentation.

Thus, Pochop’s vocals are in fine form; Barrett has captured her infectious essence perfectly with this new single. The inclusion of a cellist is particularly unique, too, and ‘Lighting’ benefits massively from it. There’s an ethereal, atmospheric quality to the single that’s simply haunting. It’s anthemic in its pop stylings while remaining captivating in its complexity. It’s very, very hard to pen good pop music. This is very well executed pop music, which is a high accolade.

Lyrically, ‘Lightning’ is a pretty ballad, even if the poetic musings are chock-full of imagery fans of pop music will already be well familiar with. That is likely the one critique of ‘Lightning’ that’s worth levying: I’d love to see this comfort and production quality matched with more intriguing lyricism. Pochop is certainly capable of it, and I suspect traversing into pop territory may have resulted in losing some of that.

By and large, however, ‘Lightning’ is a beautiful single that signals a terrific return to music for Jana Pochop. After all, this is her first release since ‘Throats and Quarries’ nearly three years ago with the exception of a live cut in 2015. It’s the best she’s ever sounded in the studio, and the collaboration with Barrett has proved fruitful. There’s certainly a bright future ahead for Pochop with the upcoming singles this year, and they’re worth keeping an eye out for. Pre-orders have started for the single and it's due out June 23!