Stephanie Bettman “Beautiful Day” (SINGLE)

Good intros are everything in pop music. Slowly but surely, a delightful acoustic guitar comes slinking out of the shadows in “Beautiful Day,” the brand-new single from acclaimed folk-pop veteran Stephanie Bettman. Nothing is menacing about its euphoric melody, and yet its amiable disposition is rife with an underlying emotionality that will soon be further explained in a graceful lead vocal from Bettman, who pulls out all the stops in this song to put us in that highly desired spring mood. The harmonies are nostalgic, as is the bassline’s gentle sway, but the spicy structure of the verses makes “Beautiful Day” immediately recognizable as the handiwork of a musician who isn’t as concerned with replicating her influences as she is building on what they left behind.


The first stanza has a rather contemplative tone to it, but the improvisatory nature of the guitars makes the song feel very off the cuff, unrehearsed, and wildly spontaneous. The freeform construction never devolves into scattered nattering set to a gilded groove, but it does boast a certain amount of whimsy that I haven’t heard in a mainstream pop track for years. “Beautiful Day” is a very erudite composition, with all of the right ingredients to engage its audience on multiple levels while steering clear of ambient accentuations that would make it generally inaccessible to anyone other than folk pop aficionados. There’s nothing unstable about its experimentalism, but it’s different from what you’ll hear outside of the pop underground this spring.

Right when we’re least expecting it, the central hook in “Beautiful Day” comes slashing through the even-keeled rhythm of the drums and pulls us as close to Stephanie Bettman as possible for a reverent climax that isn’t as theatrical as it is sensuous and unassuming. There have been a lot of pop and crossover pop singers trying to create a sound similar to Bettman’s in her new solo work, but few have been able to cut something even slightly as leisurely as this piece is. She’s self-conscious in her lyrics but not the least bit shy about putting all of her feelings on the table in this song, which in itself sets her work apart from the enigmatic content that her major label brethren have been releasing in the last few years.

“Beautiful Day” concludes with a haunting percussive pulse that draws us into the light once more, and though it’s a rather short song, its catchy harmonies leave an impression that will bring listeners back to the track time and time again. I never know what I’m going to hear when I get ahold of a new indie single, but every once in a great while, an artist like Stephanie Bettman comes along and makes the entire process of creating an original, contemporary pop track look all too easy. “Beautiful Day” is folk-pop for the most discriminating of music buffs, and it’s making a big splash for its skilled songstress and those who follow her this April. For the serious fan, this is a real benchmark.

Mark Druery