“Leaving Again” by Ally Bakst

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Ally Bakst’s varied and wide-ranging talents are propelling her ever higher in the music world, and her latest single “Leaving Again” should increase her profile exponentially. The New York-based performer’s tireless work ethic and seemingly bottomless well of inspiration help distinguish this latest electro-pop offering with the same potent blend of emotion and pop polish that has distinguished her prior efforts.

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Anyone who has followed her music can hear the growing confidence present with each new release. “Leaving Again” surges forth with loose self-assurance that doesn’t demand too much of the listener but yet presents itself in an impossible-to-ignore fashion. Superb production values are one of its chief attributes. Bakst and her collaborators have crafted a performance where each part balances out against each other, and no one particular quality seems to demand the spotlight.

She’s the indisputable center of the song without overshadowing its arrangement. It’s a case of the two integral pieces of this sonic puzzle fitting without a hiccup. The music strikes me as being especially well-tailored for Bakst’s idiosyncratic voice while staying accessible to a vast swath of the listening public.

Straddling the line between being true to herself and offering something universal isn’t easy for most artists. However, it sounds as natural as breathing for Bakst. “Leaving Again” is a well-orchestrated pop gem that has real fire despite the electronic inclinations prevalent throughout, and the way she inhabits the song is a big reason for its success. I don’t hear a singer attempting to impose her will over the performance. Instead, I hear a vocalist who is attentive to the track’s nuance, hear the way her voice complements the electric piano fills, and strives to make herself one with the music.

It doesn’t overstay its welcome. “Leaving Again” has an excellent running time that won’t leave listeners feeling short-changed or rushed. You can’t teach instincts, you have them or you don’t, and Bakst’s feeling for what makes an effective pop song is present throughout this recording. I think it has tremendous potential in live performance despite the electronic instrumentation. Some adjustments would need to be made, without question, but the essential building blocks are here for a potent live number. She certainly has the vocal chops to make it stand out.

“Leaving Again” isn’t your typical by-the-numbers pop confection, and Ally Bakst isn’t your stereotypical pop singer. She brings unique qualities of feeling and skill together in a presentation that lingers with you long after the song ends. Presence, along with instincts, isn’t something you can pre-program. It’s there, or it isn’t. Ally Bakst has ample presence, and her commanding personality fills every line of this glittering electronic pop gem.

Newcomers will appreciate it after a single listen while those already familiar with her talents will find it to be a spirited affirmation of what they already knew. Ally Bakst’s staying power and expanding skills are evident to anyone with ears and an open mind. “Leaving Again” exhibits pure pop mastery from the start and leaves you wanting more.

Trace Whittaker