Rayna, the musical name 21-year-old Nashville “dark pop” musician Claudia Christensen, is searching for community with the songs she puts out to the world.
“If one person can hear this song and feel the message within the music, then it’s served its purpose,” the 21-year-old writes to Billboard her first-ever single, the proundly affecting “Sinking.”
“The song is about the cyclical nature abusive relationships, the constant lies and apologies that manipulate you into staying in a relationship where you feel like you’re literally sinking underwater,” she tells Billboard. “It’s about the confusion and pain that comes with that, while still going back to that person because you love them.”
With an assist from New Jersey rapper Indy, “Sinking” is filled with a feeling unease as it tracks the cognitive dissonance being in love a partner whose love is perpetually conditional. “With every lie I take, maybe I know that I’m sinking,” she sings over a woozy, hollowed-out production from Sean Rogers.
Directed by Slater Goodson, the video matches the emotional tone the song — a series too-close vignettes finding couples, queer and straight, walking on eggshells as abusive partners break the boundaries trust, only to impose affection on their partner again. It’s interspersed with images Rayna, awash in shades bisexual lighting, the only respite for the viewer until the video’s emotional end.