When Facing the Things We Turn Away From, is an album that punches a hole in your chest, grabs hold of your heart, and promises to never let go. Not that you’d ever want it to.
Luke Hemmings has achieved what most artists can merely dream of, crafting a cohesive, dreamlike soundscape to explore themes of growing up, isolation, and the fear of losing all that you love. Hemmings’ cowriter and producer on almost every track, Sammy Witte, creates an atmospheric tension that builds upon the foundation of classic rock.
Despite being his debut solo album, Hemmings is no stranger to the music industry- having spent the last decade as the lead singer for the popular band 5 Seconds of Summer. Now he’s getting personal, letting the listeners in for perhaps the first time on this 12-track journey.
It all began with “Starting Line”, the lead single which tracks Hemmings’ experience throughout the years in the music industry. Despite his worldwide success with the band, Luke feels as if a part of his youth has been taken from him. “Standing on the sun and I don’t feel a thing“, the Australian singer is apathetic amongst the success that most merely dream of achieving.
It’s nothing groundbreaking, the struggles of fame have been told time and time again- but it’s Witte’s production that aids in the track’s success. It begins with a slow jog over a simple piano and builds until its bridge when Hemmings’ vocals begin to soar, and the drums propel the listener into a 5K for their life.
Witte outdoes himself again on the somber track “Mum”, a song tinged in regret of leaving those you love behind- in this case Luke’s mother. The tension of the lyrics continues to rise until the utter explosion of instrumentals after the second chorus- perhaps the finest bit of production in most recent years.
On album highlight “Slip Away”, Hemmings unleashes every bit of emotion he has left. Singing of the fear he feels in losing the ones he loves, he recently told Apple Music that “‘Slip Away’ is about that feeling right before bed where every bad decision and bad thing you have ever done swirls around your mind. The constant ache of expecting loved ones to be out the door as soon as they see who you actually are“.
Hemmings begs his loved ones not to give up on him, practically crying on the final chorus as he sings out “don’t you leave me in this silence, when you’ve seen all my mistakes, now I’m looking for escapes like I knew I would“. It’s impossible not to feel his pain, this burden of fear that sits heavy on our chests in our most vulnerable moments.
When Facing the Things We Turn Away From is a career defining album, one in which Luke Hemmings has made with his solo debut. Raw, emotional, and often times very fun- the album has no filler tracks and demands for each song to have its own focus. The best album of 2021 is criminally underrated, having somehow gone without much media attention. Perhaps this is just what its maker wants, to create his art and still live his life- he has clearly earned it.
When Facing the Things We Turn Away From is out now on all streaming platforms!