Only on her third single, Jhanvi Soni has managed a mean artistic feat. She has made the silent terror of everyday existential unmooring sound beautiful. It is a melancholic beauty, inviting yet heartbreaking.
Much of this has to do with Soni’s honeyed voice. Her intonation comes off as a cross between a lonesome woodland elf and a bejewelled-but-broken diva crooning to sad patrons in late-night clubs. ‘Underwater’ is aptly titled, as the song wades through the quiet sadness of the self.
Her lyrics are introspective and offer the impression that the entire song is a murmured conversation with herself rather than something for a listener’s consumption. Soni muses upon her state of the soul, offering quick glimpses of a scattered, doubt-rattled life. The song also carries the aural fragrance of a broken romance, only the break has been with one’s raison d’etre. A quick patch of poetry comes through in: “There is black and there is white/ Why am I always on the grey side” and summarizes perfectly the agony of never knowing where you stand with yourself.
Musically, the instruments match the title, with overlapping strings emulating gentle waves that are all too easy to drown in. The video has an amateurish edge, but uses a series of commonly used tropes to tell stories of that unidentified but ever-present sadness we’ve all learned to live with.