Review: Fletcher’s “Girl Of My Dreams”

“Girl of My Dreams” by Fletcher is out everywhere now!

Fletcher’s long awaited debut album Girl Of My Dreams is triumphant in its exploration of finding self-love in the aftermath of a devastating heartbreak. Throughout her discography, Fletcher has never shied away from her brutal honesty- representing a darker side of pop that is just absolutely epic when paired with her killer voice. With this being her debut album- every aspect that has worked so well in her past EP’s is amplified here, and did I mention that it’s like….. super gay? Need I say more?! Let’s get into the best of the best here!

Album opener “Sting” sets the tone perfectly- placing us directly in the wake of her breakup with her vulnerable lyrics and gorgeously emotive voice. Referencing several moments throughout her career from “All Love” on her second EP you ruined new york city for me to her third EP The S(EX) TAPES- the track compares the hurt to a sting as she wonders if it will simply always feel this way. The production is slick and perfectly crafted, allowing the track to continue to build until that vibey beat finally drops in the second verse. “Honestly, all I wanna know why does it sting? Why am I still hung up on things? Are you gonna give that diamond ring that’s meant for me to her? But maybe I like the way it sting, it’s all I got left of you and me, I’d rather it keep on cutting deeper, show what we’re worth,” Fletcher sings on the chorus, making me feel like shaking and crying in a way that only Cari Fletcher can succeed in doing.

“Sting” by Fletcher

Continuing the self-referential nature of the opener, the album’s followup track “Guess We Lied” is an absolute knockout- interpolating the chorus of Fletcher’s single “If You’re Gonna Lie” from you ruined new york city for me and giving it more of a rock edge to fit this edgier and more mature vision. As a longtime fan, I was shocked to hear the chorus of one of my favorite Fletcher songs sampled here but it works incredibly well- in a way that shows how time can change us and give us truth in hindsight. The original placed the blame directly on her ex, but this newer version allows Cari to accept some of the blame as well in lines like “I know we said forever but I guess we lied” there to destroy us emotionally. Now, my personal favorite lyric here comes from the start of the second verse- “Do you ever get the feeling, we’re a real deep cut that’s never healing, it’s fuckin’ me up but not in a good way”. Through connecting these newer songs to her past- the growth not only in her vocals but in herself as well serves to drive home the album’s overarching themes (more on this later).

“Guess We Lied” by Fletcher

“Birthday Girl” is another devastating moment on the album, written in the spiral of knowing that her ex- girlfriend shares the same birthday as her and being unable to escape the thought of her as she tries to celebrate her own day. As the album’s first stripped back track, “Birthday Girl” is a showcase to Fletcher’s incredible pen game- shattering my heart in simple sentences like “The night we met, we found out we were born on the same day, It was weird but kinda cute, And now it’s weird but fucking sucks, ‘Cause we broke up and I’m scared that it’ll never feel the same way. I hate that song without your name, and mine looks lonely on the cake“.

“Birthday Girl” by Fletcher

The heartbreak-tinged pop perfection continues through the middle of the album as we reach the singles that preceded its release like the chaotically petty “Becky’s So Hot” about her ex’s new girlfriend and “Better Version” which is about how the next person gets the so called “better version” of someone who moves on from a relationship. It’s here where the album takes a shift inward, abandoning the focus of past heartbreak and honing in on an exploration of self with the interlude called “I Think I’m Growing”. “I’ve had to get along and hang out with me instead, I saw all the parts I didn’t like, so insecure, so quick to fight, I didn’t know I was so co-dependent, I didn’t know I had so much resentment,” she sings on the opening verse of learning to be okay on her own for the first time in so long and discovering what she needs to work on in order to improve. The production is literal lesbian heaven- with Fletcher’s voice carrying us up through the rainbow gates with harmonies so tightly perfect, it has yet to resonate with me that they are actually real. So so so good.

“I Think I’m Growing” by Fletcher

Title track “Girl Of My Dreams” takes leaps forward towards self-preservation and love- proclaiming herself to be the only “girl of my dreams”- which honestly grasped my attention so firmly after incorrectly assuming that it would be a love song about another woman. “I’m all hers, and she’s all mine, I’ll love her ’til the day I die,” the New Jersey native isn’t claiming to be fixed or know the answer to what troubles her- but instead recognizes how she is the one who needs to stand tall and love herself unconditionally. There’s a sense of comfort in the lyrics, like a much-needed warm hug, to thank herself for being the one who has always gotten her through the toughest days. It’s a gorgeous statement and extremely worthy of representing the album as a whole.

“Girl of My Dreams” by Fletcher

Cari continues this look inward with “I Love You, Bitch” which is her learning to say that she loves herself after having said it much more easily towards her exes than she ever has to herself. “‘Cause I’ve said it, to everyone, everyone, everyone, everyone else, Like oh my God. And I’ve meant it, to everyone, everyone, everyone but myself, Like oh my God, So I’ve been looking in the mirror and I practice saying this: I love you, bitch,” the personality and charisma that Fletcher brings to every track truly shines here most of all- somehow escaping the pitfall that “self-love anthems” are often stigmatized for. The production is light and quite playful, a fun little song that perfectly blends to fit each moment- having taken influence from the pop punk resurgence in the chorus and the dream pop escapism of the verses and still allowing it time to breathe in order to continue building.

“I Love You, Bitch” by Fletcher

As we finally reach the album’s closing track “For Cari”, she offensively attacks our feelings as she dedicates this final note to Cari- the girl she is on the inside, the girl she has always been. It’s one thing to love and appreciate the singer that is Fletcher along with her writing and performing but to hear her talk so lovingly of Cari and take note of the growth felt throughout this experience, it resonates on absolutely every level. “‘So I’ll say ‘farewell’ to the hard times, and I’ll say “fuck you” to the bad vibes, and I’ll raise a glass while I toast to myself, I’m a bad bitch and nothin’ can scare me, This one’s for Cari,” the melodic structure and lyrics are so refreshing- they give me drunken night’s out with friends and toasting to the crowded bar kinds of vibes. It’s gorgeous and lots of fun- sealing off the album on the perfect note.

“For Cari” by Fletcher

Overall, Fletcher absolutely crushed it while making this album. The years that have preceded this release have done an incredible job of setting us up for what was to come while also respectfully keeping an eye on her past. If there’s any justice in this world, Fletcher will become THE pop queen with the release of this album- serving vocals, beauty and an undercurrent of honesty throughout that prove her to be more fearless than any of her current peers.

Girl Of My Dreams is out now on all streaming platforms!

Review: Beyoncé’s “Renaissance”

Beyoncés new album “Renaissance” is out now everywhere!

Beyoncé’s new album Renaissance is a triumphant tour de force- just the kind of electrifying jumpstart that Pop and R&B needed this year. Now I know what you’re thinking: this has literally been out for nearly two months. And yes, you’d be correct in saying so- but it would simply be a disservice to this masterful work of art to just give it a standard review.

This record is a dance floor album- with the track list seamlessly arranged to feel like a DJ set in the greatest club on the planet. Celebrating both the Black and Queer communities who helmed the disco and house music movements, Beyoncé’s successfully crafted a work of art that feels like healing. Now let’s break down some of the best moments!

“I’m That Girl” by Beyoncé

In true Beyoncé fashion, the album begins on an empowering moment with tracks “I’m That Girl” and “Cozy”, setting the tone perfectly for what is to come. Ms. Sasha Fierce has built her entire career around a discography meant to exude confidence, so there really isn’t anything astoundingly different here- yet these opening tracks still hit just as hard. The production choices and melodies are unlike anything Queen Bey has ever released and are instantly memorable in an album full of standout tracks. “Cozy” specifically is the kind of track you instantly wish you knew every word to so you can blast it and sing along in the car. It’s that good.

“Cozy” by Beyoncé

In my eyes (and thankfully in my ears too) the album would be all that much lesser if not for “Alien Superstar” which is definitely a candidate for song of the year for me. It’s futuristic, while keeping one eye on the past- inherently euphoric and transportive into a galaxy all her own. Somehow fierce, sexy, confident and feminine- the song represents the multitudes of Beyoncé. “I’m too classy for this world, forever I’m that girl, Feed you diamonds and pearls, ooh baby, I’m too classy to be touched, I paid them all in dust, I’m stingy with my love,” she interpolates Right Said Fred’s song “I’m Too Sexy” in the chorus- still somehow making it her own and unlike any music being released today.

“Alien Superstar” by Beyoncé

Now there’s a reason why people are absolutely devouring “Cuff It” online, crafting their own choreography which simply insights joy upon every watch and listen. The song feels so classic, like an older track I would’ve heard my parents reminiscing about during my childhood. And that’s not to say it’s outdated, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The chorus is infectious, making you feel invincible like only a night out with your best friends can do. “Bet you you’ll see far, Bet you you’ll see stars, Bet you you’ll elevate, Bet you you’ll meet God, ‘Cause I feel like fallin’ in love,” the post chorus is the true standout here- both addictive and vocally powerful. It’s peak Beyoncé.

“Cuff It” by Beyoncé

Now we can’t talk about this album without addressing the lead single- “Break My Soul”. Admittedly, it was not my favorite on the first listen. I found it a bit abrasive and not quite the comeback single I’d hoped for. I will however say that it is very much a grower as it has gotten better with every single listen- both empowering and joyous as the production continues to build until the end where a choir accompanies Beyoncé on a gorgeous pulled back note. I’m very happy to report that I was quite wrong about this track and while it still isn’t my favorite on the record, I do think it was the perfect lead single to bring us all back into the BCU (Beyoncé Cinematic Universe).

“Break My Soul” by Beyoncé

“Plastic Off The Sofa” is vocal heaven- sonically ethereal and another timeless track that could’ve been released in the 1970’s (but thankfully we get to be the ones to discover it today). Her vocal delivery is light and airy here, with every single one of her choices placed perfectly. If this song had been somehow placed in the wrong hands, it could’ve gone oh so wrong. A lesser singer might have overdone the runs and made it tasteless with senseless vocal acrobatics- in case you need an example of this, I highly recommend checking out the “Plastic Off The Sofa Challenge” which has gone viral on TikTok. But when you listen to Beyoncé sing her absolute ass off here, you just completely understand why she is exactly where she is today. Being the only drastic change of pace on this dance heavy album, it’s a true standout and is reminiscent of Beyoncé’s early solo work.

“Plastic Off The Sofa” by Beyoncé

Now I could sit here and talk about this album until I’m blue in the face, or rather until Act II comes out, but I highly recommend that you simply check it out for yourself. Any review or remarks from me will just fail to capture the magic of it all- so do yourself a favor and whether you’re out on a drive, cleaning around the house, or relaxing on your couch- blast this album as loud as you possibly can.

Beyoncé succeeds in every aspect with Renaissance, the first Act of her new trilogy, an album that grants its listeners an ounce of the confidence and empowerment that Beyoncé exudes. It’s just enough to keep us going, giving us exactly what we need in order to move on from what isn’t working in our lives and go on to not only live a better life, but to thrive.

Renaissance isn’t just an album, it’s an experience. It’s an hour-long dance party with your best friends, the much-needed night out after a difficult week, the escape we can all use from the ugliness in this world. And we have THE Beyoncé to thank for that.

Renaissance is out now on all platforms!

Review: Maggie Rogers’ “Surrender”

Maggie Rogers’ new album “Surrender” is out everywhere now!

If anybody asks where I am, just assume I’m experiencing the feral joy that only a brand-new Maggie Rogers album can inflict on me. With her new album Surrender, Maggie tells stories about seeking escape through allowing herself to let go and just feel everything. It’s a gorgeous album, transcendent in both its production and its storytelling as Maggie waves the white flag above her heard for all of us.

Since the release of her critically acclaimed debut album Heard It in a Past Life in 2019, Rogers has been quite busy- having just graduated with her Masters in Religion and Public Life from Harvard’s Divinity School while simultaneously writing and producing her sophomore album. There’s a certain level of authenticity that Maggie continues to bring not only to her art but to her life as well that makes people gravitate towards her and root for her in every endeavor. And I truly believe that this authenticity bleeds through into her lyrics and her production as well. Let’s break it all down now!

Album opener “Overdrive” feels like an open road song- that start of a road trip kinda banger that sets the mood for what’s to come and feels like the utter freedom of the open highway before you. Rogers’ voice feels massive right from the first note, deepening her register on this record in ways we have never heard prior- in fact it’s almost reminiscent of Florence Welch at times in her ability to flip from her head to chest voice. “I don’t wanna do this again if you’re gon’ break my heart, I’m tearing at the seams, can’t believe that it’s gotta be this hard, you told me that I was all you could see, but you kept me in the dark,” she belts out on the bridge of a broken relationship as the production intensifies. “Overdrive” is an evolutionary piece, bridging the gap between the folk influenced sounds of her past and leading us into the liberation to come.

“Overdrive” by Maggie Rogers

“Anywhere With You” is an absolute standout and is quite possibly a contender for my Top 10 Songs of 2022 so far- both raw and exuberant in its storytelling and production. Maggie’s vocals are absolute perfection here as she tries to help her companion out of their lowest point in search of something bigger than themselves. “You tell me that forever couldn’t come too soon, If I’m gonna lose my mind, I’m gonna lose it with you, You tell me you want everything, you want it fast, but all I’ve ever wanted is to make something fucking last,” their outlooks on what’s to come may differ but she makes it clear that what’s most important is experiencing this journey together. The song’s crescendo is truly breathtaking, and the production choices made here by Del Water Gap, Kid Harpoon, and Maggie herself are, to put it quite plainly, fucking phenomenal.

“Anywhere With You” by Maggie Rogers

Channeling the grunginess of 90s rock and almost Springsteen-esque in the feeling it evokes comes “Shatter”, another incredible feat brought to us through the magical collaboration of Rogers and Kid Harpoon. It somehow encapsulates a handful of emotions- love, joy, fear, anger and confusion, all mixed into one song with a chaotic production to match it and a vocal so raw, it feels ethereal. Her authenticity continues to bleed through here with the adorable cracks in her voice bringing such character to her performance that it leaves me begging for more with every single listen. “I don’t really care if it nearly kills me, I’d give you the world if you asked me to, I could break a glass just to watch it shatter, I’d do anything just to feel with you“. She’s on an entirely different level.

“Shatter” by Maggie Rogers

Maggie’s lyrics read like gorgeous prose in pieces like “Begging For Rain”, which tells the story of that feeling of being in a dark place and focusing on what could have been different while begging for what could bring you relief. “You work all day to find religion, and end up standing in your kitchen, wondering ’bout the way it’s always been, I’m a firefighter and I can’t stop it, they fan the flames higher than rockets, and leave you standing on an open plane, begging for rain,” that feeling of grief is difficult to shake and can cause you to miss out on moments and people in your life that become casualties in the wake of your pain. It’s quite solemn but that’s what makes it all that much more poignant. Sonically, this track is more stripped back and a welcome reprieve from the string of bangers surrounding it in the tracklist.

“Begging For Rain” by Maggie Rogers

As the album heads towards its conclusion, we reach “Symphony”, which truly feels like an exhale from the rising tension that comes before it. It’s a moment of liberation, of transcendence, and a reminder to grasp onto that feeling as we continue on with our lives. “So just be here with me, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be, and there’s a symphony every time you look my way, I know we’re under slept and life’s a promise that never ends, but you can handle it. Take a breath,” she urges her partner to surrender to this feeling of peace that she has found for herself in their relationship. It’s a moment for us to take that breath as well- to take in what we’ve experienced and surrender to our emotions as Maggie transitions into the album’s final track.

“Symphony” by Maggie Rogers

What Maggie Rogers has done with Surrender is what most artists merely dream of- capturing the overwhelming mess of emotions that one experiences in life and refusing to let it take her under. Instead, she uses all of the pain as a lesson, finding her own motivation to continue on and in surrendering to all that she’s faced- she found true liberation.

Surrender is out now on all streaming platforms!

Fresh Brewed Playlist #15

Niki’s new album “Nicole” is out everywhere now!

“Backburner” by Niki was an automatic standout from her fantastic new album Nicole– recalling the feeling of neglect she’d become used to when in love with her partner. “I’ll always be in your corner, ’cause I don’t feel alive ’til I’m burnin’ on your backburner,” the feelings of neglect are almost okay as long as her partner still comes to her eventually, even if pushed aside for the time being. That feeling of waiting to be prioritized by the one you love is heartbreaking, and unfortunately quite relatable for many listeners. The Indonesian singer songwriter even wonders if it was her upbringing and her father’s “wandering eyes” that have instilled this feeling in her. It’s a gorgeously written song and Niki’s storytelling ability really shines through here in a poignant way that makes me want to hear way more going forward!

“Backburner” by Niki

Ruel’s newest single “YOU AGAINST YOURSELF” is the first single from the Australian singer’s debut album and another fantastic release. Starting the album cycle off with a sense of introspection, he offers up an anthem about overcoming self-sabotage- begging his loved one to let him be there for them in their time of need. “I can’t save you now, Oh, why’s it always you against yourself,” he sings on the chorus- beginning to lose hope that he can break down this barrier between them. Sonically, it’s a synth heavy pop banger with great listenability and the production by Sammy Witte and M-Phazes is so smooth that Ruel’s vocals lay perfectly on top of it. The 19-year-old singer’s voice has never sounded better, showcasing the gravel in his tone along with a falsetto in the chorus that solidify him as one of the most talented male vocalists in music right now. I for one, cannot wait to see what his debut album sounds like when it’s finally released!

“YOU AGAINST YOURSELF” by Ruel

Check out the rest of the songs featured on Fresh Brewed #15 below!

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Fresh Brewed Playlist #14

Inhaler’s new single “These Are The Days” is out everywhere now!

So being away for a bit means one major thing: Lots of new music has been released in the last several weeks so we have plenty to catch up on. Grab your morning coffee and let’s get rolling!

Dublin based rock band Inhaler’s newest single “These Are The Days” is the anthemic summer single ready to rock an arena near you. Over the years, Inhaler have proven themselves to be one of the most exhilarating new bands to emerge in years and continue their winning streak here with this newest release. “These are the days that follow you home, these are the days that kiss you on your broken nose, these are the days I don’t miss the feeling of being alone, thеse are the days,” the chorus feels nostalgic in that “Glory Days” kinda way. It’s the cliche that these are the best days of their lives together as a band- and yet they make it feel so fresh and cool. The production, like all of their releases so far, is top notch- carrying the sound of the bands that have come before them and making it modern. If Inhaler is the future of rock, we are in damn good hands.

“These Are The Days” by Inhaler

“In The Kitchen” by Reneé Rapp is a stunningly haunting piece of music that focuses on a moment from her relationship that has now ended and how alone she now feels. “So I’ll dance with your ghost in the living room and I’ll play the piano alone, but I’m too scared to delete all our videos, ’cause it’s real once everyone knows, you could’ve at least shown me some decency, done me a favor and packed up your clothes, falling in love, no, it ain’t for the weak, so don’t try this at home,” the chorus punches a hole into your chest and rips your heart out before you can even catch a breath. Her vocal performance is raw and gritty, an absolutely unforgettable performance that stays with you long after the first listen as she struggles to move past the memory of their love in fear of making the loneliness that much more real. It’s heartbreakingly relatable and Rapp uses her acting chops to heighten the emotions even more so in the gorgeously shot music video below.

“In The Kitchen” by Reneé Rapp

The Lost Youth’s newest single “Headfirst” is a raging pop banger that grabbed me from the first 10 seconds- and frankly if you don’t feel the same, I highly suggest getting your hearing checked. The production is slick, reminiscent of the past and yet so perfectly modern. The lyrics are sharp, about the vulnerable early stages of a relationship when you’re afraid of ruining things. “I play my part and I don’t play games, what if I go too far, could I lose everything,” the chorus is anthemic, ready to be screamed at their concerts and sure to be a fan favorite. With “Headfirst” only being their second release, they have an incredible potential to become an absolute sensation around the world. I’m so excited to see what this duo have in store for us next!

“Headfirst” by The Lost Youth

Check out the rest of the songs featured on Fresh Brewed #14 below!

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Scalding Hot: David Alexander’s “Her”

David Alexander’s new single “Her” is out everywhere now!

After a bit of a hiatus, Brew Music Friday is finally back and today- I bring you the next edition of “Scalding Hot”! On today’s segment I bring you the newest release from an up-and-coming singer songwriter and producer named David Alexander, whose newest release “Her” is his most promising yet.

I first discovered David’s work on TikTok quite a few months ago when he began to tease all of the newest music he had been working on in his World Domination series. Each tease was so damn good that it made me constantly come back to see if he had posted more. I went back- over and over- waiting very impatiently for when I could blast these songs in my car. And now the first of what is to come has finally been released- so let’s break it down!

“Her” is an absolute bop- the kind of song that makes you want to jump around your room while screaming it at the top of your lungs. Alexander, who wrote and produced the track along with Benzi, does an incredible job building tension with the production which finally releases in the explosive chorus. “You’ve been calling me up, late night reminding me of everything we don’t have, it’s so embarrassing, I can’t hеlp but call it what it is, you’re just somebody I kissed last night, looking for somеthing to shut off my mind, all I’ve been thinking about is her, and you’ll never be her,” David sings on the chorus, his voice carrying a grit to it.

While the production is definitely joy ride worthy, the lyrics have an emotional depth to them that place you right in David’s shoes. The song tells the story of someone heartbroken over a girl and unable to move on, so he goes out to be with someone else who is nothing more than a rebound for him. He recognizes the toxicity of his actions, but he can’t help it- and like all of the best kinds of art, it is extremely personal.

“Her” by David Alexander

“Her” is David Alexander’s first release since November 2021’s “Dreams Cost Cash”- having taken some time for himself in his first year of college to just allow himself to write and discover the sound he was searching for. Between this song and the others that he has teased along the way- it definitely sounds like he’s found it. He knows exactly how to use his voice, at times smooth as hell and yet gritty when he needs it to be. I’m automatically reminded of Luke Hemmings’ voice when trying to think of who I could possibly compare him too.

With the release of “Her” also comes Alexander’s announcement that he will take time off from school to fully pursue his music, so if you are looking to follow an artist from the beginning of their journey through the time their art finally blows up- now is the time to get on board with David Alexander. Make sure to follow his socials below to stay up to date on more music news!

“Her” is out now on all streaming platforms!

Are there any other artists you’d like to see featured on the next “Scalding Hot”? Send me your recommendations on Instagram today!

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The Magic of Taylor Swift’s “folklore”

“folklore” by Taylor Swift

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 2 years since we followed the golden string into the folklorian woods created by Taylor Swift and had our lives forever changed. Like Narnia and Wonderland before it, the world crafted gorgeously by Taylor passed down stories of loves lost, introspection and hopes of what’s to come. It’s been a magical 2 years and the stories told here still hold the same weight- and that’s why I’d like to deep dive this phenomenal album’s best lyrics and production choices.

Swift’s collaboration with Jack Antonoff and The National’s Aaron Dessner all came about amidst the start of Covid, with every song being written, produced and recorded within the span of a few months. The low stakes process of making the album is perhaps what made it feel so special- lacking any pressure of her record label or expectations of charting. This was music made for the sake of writing- at times painful, cathartic, and exactly what was needed to survive in that insane moment.

The album’s first track “the 1” perfectly sets the tone for what’s to come on the record, describing a love that got away with a production that automatically felt like a change of pace for the singer who had previously released her pop centric album Lover less than a year before this. “And if my wishes came true, it would’ve been you,” the speaker thinks to herself on the chorus of a love that is no longer in her life. It’s heartbreakingly relatable, trying to seem as if she’s moved on and yet still thinking of them to the point of believing she sees them in the places she goes. The line that still haunts me with every listen comes in the bridge when she ponders to herself that “I persist and resist the temptation to ask you, if one thing had been different, would everything be different today?

“the 1” by Taylor Swift

The album’s lead single “cardigan” is a standout among Taylor’s tremendous career, perhaps one of the best songs she has ever written. The first song in the “teenage love triangle” trilogy featured on folklore, “cardigan” is from the perspective of the character Betty looking back on her past with her partner James who put her through a lot when they were younger. “But I knew you’d linger like a tattoo kiss, I knew you’d haunt all of my what ifs, the smell of smoke would hang around this long, cause I knew everything when I was young. I knew I’d curse you for the longest time, chasing shadows in the grocery line, I knew you’d miss me once the thrill expired, and you’d be standing in my front porch light, and I knew you’d come back to me,” she sings on the third verse. Everything from the lyrics to the instrumentation and the way Swift sings the track is absolute perfection and Dessner’s production is some of the finest I’ve heard in recent memory.

“cardigan” by Taylor Swift

“my tears ricochet” is one of only a few songs on the album that have a personal stake in its story rather than the fictional tales Taylor had written with the other tracks. Her vocal delivery has an edge to it here, a clear-cut message for the man who many believe to have inspired the track- Scott Borchetta who sold Swift’s masters without her permission to Scooter Braun. Like all of the best songs on this record, it’s not merely about one thing- with Taylor’s skillful writing making it connect to her own life while leaving it broad enough for its listeners to find relatable as well. “And I can go anywhere I want, anywhere I want, just not home. And you can aim for my heart, go for blood, but you would still miss me in your bones. And I still talk to you when I’m screaming at the sky, and when you can’t sleep at night- you hear my stolen lullabies,” the swell of the production continues to build through the bridge before reaching its peak in the final chorus. There’s a rage beneath the song’s seams that only a true betrayal can trigger and it’s that emotion that leaves me in its wake every single time I listen to it.

“my tears ricochet” by Taylor Swift

One of my all-time favorite Taylor songs and my personal favorite from this record has to be “august”, which is the second part of the “teenage love triangle” trilogy- this time told from the perspective of a girl named Augustine who James spent a summer with instead of with Betty. If Augustine had been written by the wrong hands, she could have been merely made into a trope of the “other woman”, but with Swift as her writer, she is instead fleshed out and understood. It’s made clear that she thought this love was real and not just a summer love, which makes the listener empathize with her even more so when James goes back to Betty in the end. Here, the production is light and summery to match the summer love that James and Augustine shared and instantly feels classic. “But I can see us lost in the memory, August slipped away into a moment in time, cause it was never mine. And I can see us twisted in bedsheets, August sipped away like a bottle of wine, cause you were never mine,” she continues to break our hearts with that chorus.

“august” by Taylor Swift

If we’re talking about songs that stay with you long after the first listen, we need to mention “this is me trying” which really showcases Taylor’s ability to capture other perspectives by telling stories of a person struggling with mental illness and another struggling with addiction. This song is her way of giving credit to those who don’t always have their daily struggles acknowledged by those around them. “They told me all of my cages were mental, so I got wasted like all my potential, and my words shoot to kill when I’m mad, I have a lot of regrets about that. I was so ahead of the curve, the curve became a sphere, fell behind all my classmates and I ended up here, pouring out my heart to a stranger but I didn’t pour the whiskey,” the second verse really hits when you feel like where you are in life doesn’t quite reach the potential you faced at a younger age- especially now that less people pat you on the back when you reach adulthood. The song itself explores how sometimes the act of trying is something only you know when the ones around you don’t know your personal struggle- and it’s truly something that has resonated quite poignantly with her listeners.

“this is me trying” by Taylor Swift

The final song in the “teenage love triangle” trilogy is “betty” which is told from James’ perspective as he shows up at Betty’s party to apologize and try to win her back after his affair with Augustine. It’s the quintessential, end of a romantic comedy ending that we all hope for as the man comes to his senses and owns up to his mistakes. Here though, it’s tinged with a bittersweet sadness as we consider how Augustine is left in the dust as James and Betty rekindle their love. “Betty, I’m here on your doorstep, and I planned it out for weeks now, but it’s finally sinking in. Betty, right now is the last time I can dream about what happens when you see my face again,” James is filled with that beautiful anxiety as he plans on the possibilities of what will happen when he shows up at the party. This song always brings me back to those moments in my life, those moments before you see the person you love after a long time and that hopefulness you feel that seeing you will mean as much to them as it does to you.

“betty” by Taylor Swift

The haunting production on “peace”, mixed with the anxiety-tinged lyrics create a gorgeous balance that has continued to make this song grow on me with each listen. This is Taylor at her most personal and raw on this record, singing directly to her longtime boyfriend Joe Alwyn. She recognizes that although she tries to make her life as normal as possible for everyone around her, there’s always this dark cloud lingering over them. She can’t control what tabloids will say about them or if there’s a strange man with a camera nearby wherever they go, but she hopes that what she can control is enough for him even if she can’t give him peace. It’s very much the price of fame which has been written about time and time again over the years but never to this degree of intimacy. “And you know I’d swing with you for the fences, sit with you in the trenches, give you my wild, give you a child. Give you the silence that only comes when two people understand each other, family that I chose now that I see your brother as my brother. Is it enough?”

“peace” by Taylor Swift

The album’s closing track “the lakes” continues this sentiment of finding a sense of peace in life, this time exploring the idea of someday being able to escape from the spotlight and moving somewhere like the great poets did, where they were free to just write for themselves. Inspired by a trip to the lake district in England with Alwyn, she recognized a part of herself in those writers and while she can’t run away there at this very moment, his love gives her that same sense of freedom and happiness in this time. “Take me to the lakes where all the poets went to die, I don’t belong and my beloved, neither do you. Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry, I’m setting off, but not without my muse, not without you,” she closes out the album on that final sentiment.

“the lakes” by Taylor Swift

Taylor is at peace with her life, after all of the turmoil and betrayal she’s faced. She’s now surrounded herself with people who only serve to bring light into her life and has found a love worth leaving it all behind for. And in doing so, she’s been able to expertly explore these gorgeous, fictitious stories that she began to craft here as well as in folklore‘s sister album evermore after it.

folklore is exquisitely crafted- still as fresh on its second anniversary as it was on the first listen with surprises still being found in the background of its production and songwriting choices that still leave me wondering how someone could be THAT good of a writer. The folklorian woods are a magical place- full of comfort and heartbreak and like most of you, I continue to find myself wandering back in all over again.

Thank you, Taylor.

Review: Sabrina Carpenter’s “emails i can’t send”

Sabrina Carpenter’s new album “emails i can’t send” is out everywhere now!

Sabrina Carpenter has masterfully crafted a deeply personal and heartbreakingly intimate, yet perfectly fun summer album with her latest album emails i can’t send. Her first full length release since 2019’s Singular: Act II, this album is her strongest and most cohesive by far- showcasing her witty songwriting and utilizing her vocals better than I’ve heard from previous projects.

As I’ve now listened to the album quite a few times through, I can’t help but feel like in a way, this is Sabrina’s equivalent to Taylor Swift’s masterful album Reputation. Following a year of media scrutiny and the publicization of her personal life, one can only imagine the kind of backlash she faced and instead of letting it tarnish her career- she owns it with confidence and takes the time to tell her side of the situation and does so quite beautifully.

The track that will most likely get the most social media buzz “because i liked a boy”, addresses the perceptions and harsh assumptions that Carpenter faced when the public decided to villainize her when dragged against her will into a very public love triangle. “Now I’m a homewrecker, I’m a slut. I got death threats filling up semitrucks, tell me who I am, guess I don’t have a choice, all because I liked a boy,” she sings on the chorus, owning into the perceptions people made about a relationship they frankly knew nothing about. Throughout the song, she compares the innocence of their relationship against the cruel and sometimes brutal noise surrounding them. It’s sad that in 2022, a situation can still be so sensationalized to the point that one woman has to be torn down in order to support another- and frankly the true villains are the ones who made Sabrina write this song in the first place.

Directed by Amber Park

The album’s title track and introduction “emails i can’t send” adds another layer to understanding what Sabrina has faced- detailing her own fathers’ infidelity and her inability to look at him the same. The stripped down, gorgeous piano led track is tragic in its lyrics while explaining how her father’s affair has impacted her own ability to trust in her relationships- which frankly makes the public calling her a “homewrecker” that much more heartbreaking. “When I’m forty-five, someone calls me their wife, and he fucks our lives in one selfish night, don’t think I’ll find forgiveness as fast as mom did, and God, I love you, but you’re such a dipshit,” she sings in a stream of consciousness like style. Describing the track on her Instagram, Carpenter says that this is “The song that inspired the record. Someone I looked up to let me down and it changed the way I love and receive love.”

“emails i can’t send” by Sabrina Carpenter

Another album standout is “Tornado Warnings”, a very tongue in cheek and fun track about making a habit of ignoring someone’s red flags and choosing to see the best in them. “I drive you home, you drive me crazy, but that’s not gonna stop me, I call you out, you call me ‘baby’, but that’s not gonna stop me,” she sings on the bridge of the back and forth she feels in their relationship. The extremely catchy chorus is also sure to be having everyone singing “I’m lying to my therapist” all summer long as well right from the first listen.

“Tornado Warnings” by Sabrina Carpenter

Despite covering some heavy topics, Sabrina also balances out the album with some fun as well with tracks like “Nonsense” and “Bet You Wanna” oozing confidence and sensuality. My personal favorite as of right now is “Already Over”, which finds the singer exploring a relationship where her and her partner struggle to break the routine of being lovers when trying to maintain a friendship. The production is a perfect blend of pop and surprisingly country with the kind of knee slapping chorus that leaves you wanting to chant it over and over. “Yeah I Say I’m done, but I’m still confused, how am I supposed to close the door when I still need the closure? And I change my mind, but it’s still on you, how am I supposed to leave you now that you’re already over,” she sings on the chorus of how closure simply isn’t enough when you’re stuck on the moments you once felt happy in. It’s the perfect blend of heartbreaking lyrics and fun pop production that fans are sure to love.

“Already Over” by Sabrina Carpenter

The final song I’d like to discuss in this review is the album’s final track “Decode” which finds Sabrina coming to terms with the fact that certain situations are out of her control- finding in the end that she can try her best to let them go without taking it on herself. “There’s a weight off my shoulders now that I don’t chase you, being myself did that emasculate you? Learning from you that I can walk away too,” her message here feels like a true culmination of the journey that began with the opening track. As the track begins to close and the gorgeous violins continue on, you can practically feel Sabrina’s sigh of relief. It feels like finding her own freedom and inner peace- ending the album on a powerful note.

“Decode” by Sabrina Carpenter

Perhaps most impressive is the fact that Sabrina Carpenter has managed to quite efficiently escape the “ex-Disney Star” phase of her career- transitioning seamlessly and quicker than any of her peers before her. This is damn good music and shouldn’t be belittled to headline grabbing hot takes. Sabrina Carpenter has cemented herself as here to stay- a successful singer, songwriter, actress and more. If you can’t see that, you’re simply not paying attention.

There’s more to emails i can’t send then the relationship drama that surrounded it. It’s a story of trauma at a young age and the harmful ways our society still tries to tear women down. But it’s also a story of taking what they try to belittle you with and owning it instead of letting it hold any power over you. And for that, Sabrina Carpenter deserves all of your praise.

emails i can’t send is out now on all streaming platforms!

Scalding Hot: Ben Kessler’s “I Could Do This All Night”

Ben Kessler’s new single “I Could Do This All Night” is out everywhere now!

Stop what you’re doing! The first edition of Brew Music Friday’s new segment “Scalding Hot” is all about singer-songwriter Ben Kessler who is finally back with new music and it’s about to be your new obsession. Kessler describes “I Could Do This All Night” as a song about fighting with yourself- the constant feeling of being stuck in your own head. “I realized I wasn’t writing about being angry or disappointed – I was writing about the power and amusement of realizing your own strength,” he wrote in a post about the release. It’s gritty, relatable, and like all of Ben’s music- effortlessly fun.

Yeah I could do this all night, you throw a mean punch, but I know you can’t fight and I gave up tryna give a piece of my mind, I’ll let you be right, run all the circles you’d like, I could do this all night,” he sings on the chorus of the rock influenced track. Ben’s voice has never sounded better- both gritty and vulnerable here and filled with stylistic choices that keep you gripping on every single word he sings.

In a short period of time, Ben Kessler has established himself as a poignant lyricist and producer who has stayed true to himself through every subsequent release and collaboration. Whether he’s singing with Lizzy McAlpine on “reckless driving” or on “Love You Now, Love You Later” from his 2021 EP Cruise Control, he makes you feel every emotion imaginable. His voice has the kind of gravel that most artists merely dream of possessing- at times reminiscent of John Mayer, but like most of the greats, he’s in a world all his own.

Ben has described “ICDTAN” as the first song from the most important batch of music he’s ever created, and if this is a tease of what he’s been up to in the months since the release of his single “April”, this next project cannot come soon enough. This is game changing music, anthemic and ready to be sung on every late-night drive with the windows down and sure to be screamed at the top of your lungs when he finally announces a tour.

If you’re looking to follow a rising artist before he hits the big leagues, Ben Kessler is your guy. Sincere, down to earth, and out of this world talented- he’s the kind of artist who deserves every single bit of attention you have to offer. And he’s sure to be an absolute superstar. You can follow his socials below to stay up to date with all of his upcoming news on releases and tour dates. Cheers and happy listening!

“I Could Do This All Night” is out now on all streaming platforms!

Are there any other artists you’d like to see featured on the next “Scalding Hot”? Send me your recommendations on Instagram today!

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Fresh Brewed Playlist # 13

Zach Oliver’s new single “Coat Check” is out now!

Zach Oliver’s newest release “Coat Check” is the perfect vibe to get this summer going with a chorus so catchy, I dare you to not have it stuck in your head instantly. I first heard the song teased on TikTok back in June and found myself instantly gravitating toward Zach’s sound, vibe, and overall personality he’d perfectly portrayed in the preview. It left me begging for more- and to my surprise the full song doesn’t disappoint at all (unlike many songs on the app that are teased for way too long before ultimately being underwhelming by the time they are released in full). Each chorus continues to build quite beautifully, and the background harmonies bring such a breath of life into each subsequent chorus. “I fell in love at the coat check singing the song of the summer and I know she got in without paying cover cause her one friend’s probably banging the drummer,” the tongue in cheek chorus is ready to be screamed at the top of your lungs on all of the night drives to come. Make sure you give him a follow now because this guy is sure to be a superstar.

“Coat Check” by Zach Oliver

“Gemini”, the latest release from Brynn Cartelli is by far the singer’s strongest outing yet since winning The Voice back in 2018 with Kelly Clarkson! Cartelli was the youngest contestant to ever win the competition and in the years since signing her recording contract, she’s shown a clear-cut artistry and talent for songwriting that all truly shine on this new single. “Gemini” is a fun play on astrology and the fact that Brynn knows that Gemini’s, often known for their double sides (as a fellow Gemini, I can definitely report that it’s real), aren’t good for her and yet the guy at the center of her song is still making her fall for him. The melody is instantly gorgeous and recognizable- unlike any song of recent memory- and the production purposefully allows her vocals to shine above the rising tension. The accompanying music video which Brynn directed herself features the most perfectly fitting choreography I’ve seen in quite a while (kudos to choreographer Olivia Picard). If this is a sign of what’s to come in Brynn Cartelli’s career, we absolutely have a lot to look forward to! Now listen to her advice and avoid my fellow Gemini’s at all costs!

“Gemini” by Brynn Cartelli

When I tell you that I cannot get enough of Manana’s new song “Pulchritudinous”, it’s just about the biggest understatement of the year. This song stopped me in my tracks, slapped me in the face and left me in its wake to sit and ponder over everything I know about life. It’s haunting, beautifully sung and produced, and just instantly memorable. The South African singer serves as songwriter and producer on the track, which is named after the word pulchritudinous, which also means physically beautiful or attractive. “See I’ve run out of words for what you deserve to be called,” he sings on the pre-chorus, forced to discover an adjective worthy enough to describe his partner. Whereas he searches for the words worthy of his partner, he finds them in the simplest of ways, telling them in the chorus “Cos you are where I’m so happy“. It’s that sentiment that makes it so gorgeous, finding the words that we all dream of hearing someday. Between the songwriting, his velvety tone, and the exquisite production, I hope you all fall in love with this song as much as I have. Manana’s new EP But could the moments in between is out everywhere now!

“Pulchritudinous” by Manana

Check out the rest of the songs featured on Fresh Brewed #13 below!

Give me a follow on my socials and let’s chat about the music you’re loving right now!

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