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Elyssa Plaza
“Is It Really Love”

Pat Ryderr

By her own admission, Elyssa Plaza’s “Is It Really Love” is “about the misinterpretations of love language.” As proposed by Gary Chapman in his 1992 book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, we express and feel love in five ways: through words of affirmation, spending quality time with somebody, receiving/giving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. When, a few years ago, a friend told me about Chapman’s theory, I felt a shift in how I understood my relationships. The sting from having long stretches pass without seeing somebody felt a little duller (although it’s still frustrating!) and I became more conscious of my unshakable need to give people gifts.

On “Is It Really Love,” a broody R&B/pop tune, Plaza is attuned to her own love languages but is left frustrated  by her partner’s words and actions: “Is it really love? The way you show it isn’t there,” Plaza repeats, each instance showing off her impressive vocal control. Around the 1:20 mark, the afterglow of Plaza and her partner’s initial meeting fades completely and the track reaches its breaking point. On the coattails of a quivering bass line, the beat drops and Plaza shifts from frustration to anger, and is confidentially on her way to find somebody with more decipherable love languages.

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