Both in the mainstream as well as the underground, R&B has been having a sensational year in 2019. It’s only April, but we’ve already seen more potential hits from artists around the country than we have in the whole of 2018, and among them, Heather Fay’s “The One” has been a consistent standout in critics’ circles like my own. Fay comes into “The One” with a trademark swagger, but gives up a more emotional side to her artistry than she has previously in collaborative tracks, and while I have a feeling that this is going to primarily attract club kids and hip-hop aficionados more than it will anyone else, there’s enough of a pop nucleus to this track to bring her a bevy of new followers.
“The One” benefits from one of the tightest mixes that I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing in the last season. There’s nothing getting out of place here; from the moment that we first make contact with the sterling synthesizers, they’re in our face and demanding as physical a reaction out of us as they are an emotional one. Fay’s conservative in her style of execution here, but that doesn’t slow down the sonic blows as they come cascading from above in the drum track’s climactic moment halfway through the track. There’s so much going on in “The One” that some listeners might find it a little overwhelming, but for me personally, it’s just the cocktail of pop and hip-hop grooving that spring needed to get sprung.
The hook in the chorus is larger than life and probably one of the sharper parts in the song, but it doesn’t symbolize a moment of selling out for Heather Fay. For as much polish as we find on this single, there’s just as much genuine luster in the lyrics, passion in the prose and a willingness for our lead singer to open up in a way that she never has before. If this is what selling out sounds like, then you’re going to need to sign me up for more, because there’s no debating that the current sound Heather Fay is rocking in “The One” isn’t just superior to anything that she’s boasted in the past; it’s downright evolved from where we’d found her contemporaries slumming it in 2018.
Heather Fay will get even better with time, and although I think that she still has some room for growth as a songwriter, there’s a lot to be said about what she has achieved with “The One.” She doesn’t come off as hesitant, scattered or incapable of managing the melodies in this big moment; rather than sounding anything like an amateur, she sounds more in her element than ever before, and her confidence bleeds right into the instrumentation and lingers in the air long after the music has stopped playing. There’s a lot of really engaging tunes coming out this year from artists in every genre, but I would make a point of checking out “The One” if you haven’t already. It’s a prime cut of R&B in a spring littered with sly sleeper hits.