Every so often a gem emerges from the ruins of heartbreak; lucky for us, that latest jewel comes in the shape of musical excellence with “Secondhand Smoke” penned by 19-year-old Brynn Cartelli. Earning her stripes (and the hearts of many) early in her career as the winner of NBC’s The Voice Season 14 in 2018, the songstress established herself as an indisputable titan of pop. Five years and a robust discography later, she returns to continue yet another era of hits.
Continuing her reign as a powerhouse princess, Cartelli offers a look into the reality of emotional torment from an atypical, refreshing perspective. Given current musical charts saturated with songs of romantic love and loss, all too well the music industry and listeners alike know the woes of losing a lover. Friendship breakups, however, are an unorthodox perspective–and it works masterfully.
“Breaking up with a friend can be just as heartbreaking as breaking up with a significant other. I wrote ‘Secondhand Smoke’ at a time when I was trying to end a friendship and distance myself from the place I was in,” Cartelli exclusively shares to EUPHORIA. She adds, “I wasn’t removed from either situation at the time but I wrote ‘Secondhand Smoke’ in anticipation of moving on. I hope that feeling passes on to the listener, the possibility of freedom from a painful relationship or place.”
An ambitious display, “Secondhand Smoke” is a dynamic experience – it tells a story wherein by the song’s ending, the lyrics have ever so slightly changed. Shifting themes from an initial sense of sadness and denial that ultimately shifts into acceptance, watch the story unfold in real-time with the track’s lyrical visualizer.
In a resonant, grandiose chorus Cartelli sings, “I have to let you go / breathe out the secondhand smoke / I cannot let it show / I’m afraid that you’ve ruined my lungs / Now I’m on the run / I have to move on / What will I become without you I don’t know / I have to let you go / Breathe out the secondhand smoke.”
Despite “Secondhand Smoke” being poetic perfection with stellar production value, Cartelli’s signature robust vocals remain at the epicenter of the 4-minute track. Her voice is airy and fierce simultaneously, creating a hypnotic sonic adventure from start to finish. The pulsating tune swells into a vibrant, vulnerable bridge where her voice piques in power.
“Secondhand Smoke” follows Cartelli’s previous single, “Convertible in the Rain,” and is now available for streaming everywhere.