“Treading Water” by DALE is a curiously hopeful song about hopelessness and dejection at the reality of growing up and realizing that your life isn’t what you thought it would be, and maybe never will, and navigating that uncertainty in your young adult years. DALE confronts resentment, anger, and despondency regarding his circumstances, expressing frustration that he can’t even see where he should be because it’s difficult to stay afloat when you feel like you’re drowning. It’s very relatable, and eventually changes its trajectory to become hopeful, encouraging the listener to just keep their head up and that you are the only one really in your way.
The production of “Treading Water” only adds to the intensity of the emotions expressed in the lyrics, featuring a full alt-rock band bordering on indie punk. This, accompanied by DALE’s vocal range and strength lends a necessary punchiness to the number that puts it over the top. In the song DALE expresses much frustration and dejection regarding what he thought his potential was and what it’s turned out to be so far, reaching his lowest point in the line “And I don't know why I've been kidding myself/As if I'd amount to anything else/Than some deadbeat pothead cutting the weeds with a smoke/That's fine but it isn't me.” This line is an important inclusion because it’s extremely real and tangible, expressing a thought that many people have had but don’t always like to express. After this, however, DALE goes on to wish that everyone could see that he isn’t the man depicted above, eventually showing that he is his own worst critic–as is true for many people–and just needs to move forward regardless. “Treading Water” paints a picture of hope within extreme hopelessness, showing that you can’t fall far enough to warrant not getting up again.
As a songwriter and producer, Will Dailey has amassed over 20 million streams on Spotify on songs with rising stars such as NOTD, kenzie, Mothica and Heather Sommer. His own solo project, DALE, has received fanfare from music critics such as gems & secrets and received airplay on college radio. After graduating from NYU’s Clive Davis Institute in 2019, DALE won Songathon: a prestigious 24-hour songwriting competition sponsored in the New York City Mayor’s Office. He moved to Los Angeles in 2020 and began releasing music influenced by alternative acts such as The Cure, Tame Impala, Jon Bellion, and Weezer. His upcoming track “Treading Water” is the first in a line of singles that will culminate in a much-anticipated debut EP next year. But the journey hasn’t always been smooth. As DALE puts it, “‘Treading Water’ is ultimately about struggling to find your way in your early-to-mid twenties; about the uncertainty that entails, the self-doubt, and the struggle to not only stay afloat at times, but also know which way to swim.”
Written By Adelae Norwood