Maxine Ashley is a talent of many mediums. Gracing the modeling forefront for Pat McGrath and Fenty, the Bronx artist’s distinctive style can also be heard in the realm of music. Boasting of a resume that sees a songwriting credit for Ariana Grande (sweetener) alongside Pharrell Williams — who is also under the producer’s label — Ashley’s tenor is graceful and fierce. And on the artist’s latest single “Runaway,” there’s no doubt that the artist pulled from somber-tinged memories for a her dark-pop, open letter.
“I made the song when I was in a very dark place in my relationship,” says Ashley. “We had just moved in with each other, I was battling a lot of demons. Being so young I didn’t know a lot of stuff from my childhood would resurface. Things that I thought I had under control or I thought didn’t bother me made me go a little crazy. So, we were just dealing with a lot at the time and didn’t know how to be with each other while going through it.”
Catharsis in its lyrical context, Ashley forcefully seeks relief on the track’s ear-fetching hook with bewitching elements heard on previous singles. Similar in vein to other pop giants, the production takes a very modern, alternative-R&B direction.
The track rails against the guards of these genres and clears the space for Ashley’s pristine vocal chops. Delicately opening with a cautious lead and iridescent vocal run — where budding distorted guitar plucks soon dissipate before melding onto an electronic pulse — “Runaway” is Ashley’s commercial trek. It’s more pop oriented than early singles like “No Me Digas Nah,” but allows for a broader spectrum of sounds to be played with for future releases.
Cover photo: Jason Milter