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Tender Forever: Understated Emotions

Tender Forever's "Got to Let Go" takes a striking turn toward the melancholy for a typically upbeat musician.
Courtesy of the artist
Tender Forever's "Got to Let Go" takes a striking turn toward the melancholy for a typically upbeat musician.

Some might remember musician Melanie Valera, a.k.a. Tender Forever, from her imaginative 2007 reinvention of Justin Timberlake's "My Love." With her delicate vocals and ukulele accompaniment, Valera unearthed the softer side of the beat-heavy, Timbaland-produced track. (This was before ukulele covers became a genre in of themselves.) But Valera, as it turns out, is not one to shy away from the beats in her original material.

In "Got to Let Go," from Tender Forever's recent No Snare, Valera employs a minimalist beat paired with sustained synthesizer notes. Her voice, strong during moments of self-proclaimed acceptance ("This heart is not for you") and hushed during reminders to endure the pain ("Not gonna cry"), works in perfect harmony with words that depict a relationship gone awry. Although this is well-covered territory, it's a striking turn toward the melancholy for a typically upbeat musician. Still, Valera leaves her emotions understated, aided perhaps by her barely audible accent. The French-born, Oregon-based singer favors concise notes and simple wording over the drawn-out and dramatic.

"Got to Let Go" concludes in a big way, with rolling drum thumps underlying Tender Forever's resounding statement to an ex-lover, as Valera sings, "I know I'm not coming back / I'm not erasing this track." Thank goodness.

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