“One Time in Lebanon,” the third single from British-Indian singer and songwriter Prianca RA, is unusual for placing agency where it rightly belongs – in the hands of protagonist Habiba, who carves and expresses her own life story. In a world that all too often relegates women to unnamed and obscure character roles, the song assumes a refreshingly defiant stance.

The four-minute track is an intricate plot of contrasts. Themes of conformity and individuality clash throughout the song, only to unveil a picture of Habiba’s liberation and free spirit.

Musically, too, the song is a composition of divergent elements. An echoing, warped male voice at the intro ushers in Prianca’s raw and authentic sound in the first verse. A no-frills hip-hop beat underpins her vocal melody, along with tender piano rhythms progressing in tandem. Ambiguous and unintelligible, the resounding echo returns in bursts through the first half of the song, providing an unusual foil for Prianca’s lucid and coherent feminine expression.

The latter half of the song sees a stark change in concept. In the manner of a film score, a twenty-second stretch of roaring thunder makes way for low-pitched chordal strings and forebodes a new motif. Prianca’s voice loosens and drops in register, clearly discernible amidst only a steady downpour of rain. With the closing phrase of sharp vocalization, the song comes full circle.