Ask any former singing contestant, and they will likely tell you the same. Signing up for a national competition looks great on paper, but what ultimate happens is a stripping away of your core identity--amidst the flashing lights, strenuous scheduling and constant guidance from executives, vocal coaches and even your fellow competitors. It's muddy water to navigate, and not many resurface triumphant in their own way. For season 13 runner-up, then-known as Jena Irene Asciutto, it took some time out of the pressure of the spotlight to find herself again. Now, she rises victorious with a new image--going by just JIA--and new music. The first taste of her long-awaited debut studio album is anchored by "Floating Down the River," a soft-rock and atmospheric piece of lyricism--not to be confused with the Tears for Fears song of the same name. JIA sails across a melody which tips its hat to other such veteran acts as Pink Floyd and the Beatles; its flair for dramatics is supported by the pitter-patter of percussion, sweeping strings and an unshakable piano backbone. And Popdust is beyond honored to get our hands on the exclusive first listen of a new artist budding from her shell in remarkable ways.
Says JIA on the importance and inspiration of such a landmark record, "The underlying meaning of this song is the feeling of contentment and acceptance within myself and the direction I've decided to take my message as an artist. Its initial inspiration was feeling stuck living in a city I've outgrown. The video was shot on Belle Isle to represent, visually, the discovery of this booming scene I've become a part of. Detroit has shown me to be who I am 100% of the time and to never apologize for it – and is ultimately where I'm planning to get the first place of my own later this year."
As diehard fans will recall, JIA stormed the "American Idol" stage back in 2014 with such impressive performances as Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love," Coldplay's "The Scientist," Radiohead's "Creep" and many others. In the span of three years, JIA's voice is somehow sharper, coming along with that a considerable heaviness and ripened wisdom. On "Floating Down the River," she caresses the lyric, boldly and unapologetically. "Honey, how you doing? You can fuck me for free, use each other till the morning and then I'll ask you to leave. I can't give you my energy or give you my love. There are some things that belong to me," she professes over the dreamy mixture of singer-songwriter pop and Alanis Morissette-bent rock.
JIA is a firestorm, and she's now ready to take you on a journey. Her debut album is expected later this year.
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