In a year as dark and gloomy as 2020, Lacy J. Dalton has made a dazzlingly inspired return with her newest single “I Can’t Breathe”. The single, a response to the many social injustices directed towards the black community for the last multiple years that seemed to reach staggering new heights in the wake of the senseless killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor comes from an artist working at the top of her craft. For those unfamiliar with Dalton’s work, she’s remembered for her hits in the 80’s and 90’s including “16th Avenue” and “Crazy Blue Eyes” as well as being a 6-time recipient of BMI Million Airplay awards for her songwriting, and oh boy are those awards quite deserved.
MORE ON LACY DALTON: www.lacyjdalton.org/
Going into the track you’re met with the melancholy string work of acoustic guitars before Dalton’s beautiful voice pleading to want to feel safe as she “can’t breathe.” Initially I was taken aback by the structural choice of the song to have Dalton sing that she can’t breathe before the song widens its resolve, revealing that we’re in fact hearing multiple perspectives, those of the marginalized, and those in the disbelief and near denial that this could and would continue to happen. This is an incredibly dense song, clocking in at a 4 minute run time, and it commands your attention almost instantly. What could have been written off as a cynical cash grab becomes incisively mature and thoughtful as Dalton empathizes with the horrific tragedies that continue to plague our country. Dalton continues to pierce through the false promises questioning how if she was taught all men were created equal, why are there so many who feel attacked and considered less than human.
Dalton’s nuance also allows her to express her love for her country and for its people, but also holding them accountable for their actions. It’s a level of maturity and compassion not seen by in even massive mainstream artists. It’s a song that sticks with you long after it’s over and becomes more effective as you let it linger, moving through the day to day. It doesn’t feel the need to attempt to uncover any “hidden truths” because its message is in plain sight, not unlike the images we’ve become so desensitized to. Dalton is an optimist naturally, but she knows there’s so much work to have done before we can get anywhere close to celebrating any kind of end to the injustice we face. The subject matter you can tell is very near and dear given her background in teaching songwriting in California correctional facilities.
This song shot out of me like the tears that shot out of my eyes watching what I saw on the TV again and again. And because of the sensitivity around the is…
“I Can’t Breathe” is an understated stand out in a vitriolic year, as it arrives to bring some sense of relief to a troubled world. By purchasing the track directly, Dalton and her producing partners will donate their proceeds to the Equal Justice Initiative which supports the spirit of the Black Lives Matter Movement.