A haunting harmony that starts and ends with a powerful piano welcomes us as we fall upon “Tough Love,” the latest single from pop singer/songwriter Vân Scott, and over the course of the next few minutes it will grow so formidable that oceanic tidal waves are dwarfed by its sheer enormity. Scott’s vocal seeps through the shadows in the background with a swaggering tenderness, and while it’s steeped in a melancholic reverence that is intensely recognizable as being his and his alone, there’s a familiarity to the cadence of his verses that – to me at least – seems heaven-sent in what has been a rather underwhelming summer for pop music. “Tough Love” is a song that doesn’t try to be anything other than a simple, beat-driven R&B slow jam with a spiked pop shimmer certain to heat up even the coldest of nights this September, and though its creator has issued some seriously incredible work in the last couple of years, this track stands out as perhaps his most mature and robust to see widespread release thus far in his career.
The self-assuredness that Scott brings with him into the booth in this single is, for lack of a better word, contagious, and although you could argue that he’s not the only player pulling his weight here (and you’d be right), his constantly confident demeanor is undisputedly what makes “Tough Love” the anthemic hit that it is. The fabric of these instrumental melodies come alive under his command; the bassline shapes itself to suit the needs of his poetic slash, the percussion mirrors the pitter-patter of an aching heart, and even the synthetic elements in the ensuing harmonies seem tangible and relatable because of the lyrics that adorn their every strand.
Scott has come so far in a relatively short amount of time, and though I was definitely expecting a lot out of this most recent studio recording, I was not anticipating the rhythmic twists and turns that we encounter in “Tough Love” to be as unforgettable and addictive in nature as they absolutely are, even after repeat listening sessions. He’s come into his own, and he’s acting like it in this single.
If “Tough Love” is indeed but a small sampling of what’s to come next for Vân Scott, there is no reason to think that he won’t be going mainstream with his creative profile a lot sooner than later. He’s not selling out his indie cred in this track, but he’s moving his aesthetical trajectory towards a palatable strain of pop music that many major label acts have failed to do justice in the last half-decade. 2020 is staring us down with each passing day, and there’s a solid case to be made that among all of the independent musicians currently making headlines on either side of the Atlantic, Scott is unquestionably in the top tier of the talent pool. With more material like this under his belt, it’s going to become difficult for his rivals to keep up with him – let alone eclipse the momentum that he’s sporting as a professional going into the New Year.