Rett Madison’s new single “Kerosene” offers a self-aware perspective on commitment

There are some voices that leave me speechless. Whether it’s the unique tone, insane range, or ability to evoke emotion, I am often left scrambling for words that could adequately explain my experience while listening. Rett Madison has one of those voices. However, to say that her music starts and ends with her vocal take would be a grave injustice to her artistry. Her ability to craft such specific lyrics that are so personal, yet so universal, as well as the production choices that only heighten both her message and emotion, will leave you hanging on her every word, wondering where she’ll go next. Her newest single, “Kerosene,” produced by Theo Katzman, is no exception. 

The song starts and we are immediately enveloped in Madison’s buttery vocal tones, along with the raspiness of the acoustic guitar accompanying her, creating the ideal contrast. That contrast carries over into her lyric as she sings about the differences between herself and a potential partner, “You were raised on righteous love / I was brought up in a burning house.” The addition of piano and percussion help build the track as she continues to list differences, “You dried your hands on monogrammed towels / Ones I used to put out fires and shield my mouth,” almost as if offering an explanation for why a committed relationship between the two wouldn’t work.

The pre-chorus serves as a jumping off place for Madison’s vocal to soar into the chorus, as she sings “I’ll burn through you like kerosene / I’ll strike a match but no spark’s guaranteed.” Her vocal reaches a point in both her range and emotionality causing goosebumps that only intensify with the addition of slide guitar. The instrumentation is less intense in the second verse allowing for a sense of calm, before the final chorus brings us to the peak of passion with the combination of Madison’s vocal and the intricate arrangement of the track. Madison finishes the song the way she started it, almost reaffirming her stance on commitment to her potential partner. 

Though Madison’s voice may be the first thing to draw you in, if you take a moment to step back and listen to the lyrics you’ll see that “Kerosene” is a disclaimer of sorts. She explains, “Kerosene is a song from a time in my life when I wasn’t yet ready to accept healthy romantic love. I wrote it almost to caution potential partners that while I craved a fun fling to pass the time, I wasn’t in the headspace for commitment.” 

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