“She Wants What”, the new single from New Jersey’s Lily Vakili Band, has a running time of two minutes fifteen seconds but makes an emphatic statement of purpose in that short time. It is impressive to hear how much Vakili and her collaborators accomplish in such a short duration. This latest song from the well-traveled Vakili has raw visceral energy that never backs off and manages to flex considerable muscle and demonstrate wild-eyed soul in a single stroke. There is no sense of compromise or cutting corners. It isn’t a subtle track by any stretch of the imagination, but intelligence nonetheless distinguishes Vakili’s performance and songwriting in such a way existing fans will rejoice and newcomers will return for more. The song’s undeniable spirit will leave them with little choice.

It wins you over in multiple ways. The first comes with the hard-bitten guitar riffing opening the track. There’s no extraneous finesse weighing down that riff, just a head-down charging straight forward quality born out of a rock and roll cauldron. It burns with the same passion throughout the course of the track even as the playing adopts a different posture. The production brings the song’s full battery of instruments front and center in an unadorned and gripping way. “She Wants What” has great drumming throughout the track as well and the unobtrusive bass playing pairs with it to form an effective bottom end for the performance. It never obscures, however, the central feature of this track – Vakili’s singing.

She inhabits the song like someone possessed. It is always welcome to hear a vocalist who completely loses themselves in performance – there’s no calculation of any sort. Instead, it is all natural from the first and she belts out the words, especially in the chorus, as if she under the sway of the music’s power. There’s no doubt she believes in every syllable of the song’s message. This level of conviction is missing all too often from modern music and substituted, instead, with flashy superficial gestures meant to approximate heart. There’s nothing shallow about this. Vakili’s heart is beyond doubt and she bares it for anyone willing to listen.

It boils down to the fact she has that aforementioned message to believe it. Vakili’s biographical details, pursuing multiple career paths, living in various locations around the world, show that she is a seeker by nature and intent on making her own destiny. The theme of self-empowerment radiating from this performance underlines that assertion. Vakili commits herself to communicating with her audience with such fervent focus that it may leave you a little breathless.

This is what separates performing artists from entertainers. Yes, without question, Vakili wants you to enjoy this song, but she is also aiming for something even greater – transcendence. “She Wants What” deserves a simple answer – what she wants is everything life has to offer. The lyrics may not spell this out in such a direct way, but everything about this track points in that direction and, with this sort of firepower at her disposal, you never doubt that Vakili will get what she wants and even more.

Nicole Killian

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