Single Review: Maria “I Give, You Take”

I Give, You Take
Album: My Soul
Year: 2003

Maria’s boyfriend has been taking advantage of her, which she finally realizes in the lusterless “I Give, You Take.”

A somber piano begins the single. It’s followed about ten seconds later by a pumping bass. Whenever her boyfriend is injured or upset, she feels it’s happening to her, too. She worries about him. However, he cuts her down, making her feel like the size of ant for trying to help. After going through the rough times, she had hoped he would grow up. She remembers how he used to compliment or encourage her. But now it seems like it didn’t happen. (“If you cut, I will bleed, bring me down to my knees/You make me feel what I am is never good enough/Can you help me understand, thought I made you a better man/I guess somehow along the way, things just change/It seems just like a distant memory/That you used to be good for me/But, baby, now it’s clear.”)

In the chorus, she sings that she puts her heart and soul into the relationship while he reaps the benefits. He does not pay attention to her needs. Although it upsets her, she can no longer stay in the relationship. (“I give you take, somehow it’s gonna break/I pray for the strength, I hate to say/I know we can’t go on this way/I give you take, I know we’re gonna break/And it hurts my soul, I hate to say/We can’t go on this way.”)

Every time she’s ready to break up with him, he says something which gives her hope it could work out. She’s in love with him and can’t stop thinking about him, as he used to be. However, she needs to leave. If she stays, she will lose whatever’s left of her self-esteem and identity. (“With your words you pull me in, I always lose I just can’t win/And though I see my heart is blind, it gives in every time/You’ve got me on constant repeat, I need a cure or a remedy ’cause if I stay there won’t be, nothing left for me.”)

In the bridge, the single takes on a modern Motown feel. She resents him for not maturing. The relationship is fragile and one simple question taken the wrong way is enough for a fight. She thinks of him in a different way after how he’s treated her. She finally decides to end it before it gets worse. (“Now there’s nothing left for us to save ’cause only bitterness remains/What we have is like a house of cards and it’s falling apart/And it’s impossible to get it back with the bridges that you’ve burned/I guess it’s time to walk away ’cause now it’s so clear.”)

The chorus ends the single.

The fair “I Give, You Take” sticks to the standard formula of R&B breakup song. However, Maria shows promise as a vocalist. Her vocals are raw and soulful, giving the single far more depth it deserves. The single would’ve worked as a neo-soul single, as the bridge is the superb. Unfortunately, the main melody is overproduced and undistinguishable from other songs.

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