Alas we are back with another Fresh Brewed Playlist and this week, we have Gracie Abrams to blame for our tears! Her newest single “Difficult” is anything but difficult to listen to, with melodies that only the masterful minds of Gracie Abrams and Aaron Dessner could craft. While the lyrics continue the raw writing style Abrams has become known for, the production is sonically more expansive than anything the singer songwriter has previously released. The chorus soars as Gracie describes the weight that her inability to escape her own thoughts has had on her. “And I’ve been thinkin’, If I move out this year, I’ll feel my parents slippin’, Away and also, I’m just scared of that commitment, I really think sometimes there’s somethin’ that I’m missin’,” she puts all of her insecurities on display with this track and still finds a way to somehow still make it fun. Her voice is as gorgeous and painful as always, mixed perfectly with the guitar and drum heavy track. If “Difficult” and the previously released “Block Me Out” are a sign of what is to come from Abrams’ new album, 2023 is going to be moody in all of the best ways.
Joesef’s new single “Joe” is about grieving the person he used to be before all of the pain and heartache. Nostalgic of that simpler time, the anthemic track is ready to be screamed and cried out on these cool fall evenings. That itself is the risk of loving big and being open right? The toll that it can take on who we are, forever changed by the scar tissue built around our heart. But that’s the beauty of it- if we never loved, would we ever truly love? Joesef wrestles with this realization on this track, which he says will be an overarching theme across his new album Permanent Damage which will be released on January 13, 2023. “How much of myself can I give away, ‘Til there’s nothing left to take from me? Feels like I’m losing things I can’t replace, It’s an emptiness that makes me weak,” he opens the song with a knife to our hearts- so rudely relatable and wonderfully addictive in its instant listenability.
“Runaway Blue” by Chloe George is an addictive, late summer release that evokes the feelings of a hot New York City night. The track is about her own fear of commitment- her inability to allow herself to truly feel at peace with her partner as she is beginning to fall deep. Sonically, it feels so joyously wonderful- actually reminiscent of Sza in all of the best ways. “It’s just usually I see it comin’, so vivid before it finds me, but with you, it’s somethin’ I could never know, woah, I love you out of the blue since I’m givin’ way too much, I feel I been waitin’ up for you, I know life changes, if your mind changes out the blue, would you let me know,” she pours her heart out, afraid to let herself get too vulnerable in case her partner changes their mind without her realizing it. The songwriting and production choices made are absolutely gorgeous, and it makes me so excited to see what Chloe has in store for us with all of her future releases.
Check out the rest of the songs featured on Fresh Brewed #16 below!
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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.
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).
“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“.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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!
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!
Check out the rest of the songs featured on Fresh Brewed #15 below!
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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.
“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.
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!
Check out the rest of the songs featured on Fresh Brewed #14 below!
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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” 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!
After several years of releasing mixtapes and a mini album called Apolonio, Omar Apollo has finally released his debut studio album called Ivory. The 16-track project combines Apollo’s Mexican heritage with his Pop and R&B sound that has cemented him as the most versatile male singer in music right now. Ivory is both sexy and emotionally rich- and it’s absolutely worth the wait for anyone who has followed him throughout his career so far.
With Ivory, Apollo paints a picture of what love looks like for him- exploring the beauty within the pain that comes with love, as well as his own identity. Across the 16 tracks, the Mexican American singer glides effortlessly from soul baring, stripped down tracks to bilingual hip-hop- all along keeping his queerness at the forefront.
It all began back in July of 2021 with the release of the album’s lead single “Go Away”, a beautiful combination of Omar’s smooth falsetto and pop influenced production that was made for summer night drives with the window’s down. If you’ve heard the song, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The song’s success was followed by several other releases like “Bad Life” featuring Kali Uchis and “Invincible” featuring Daniel Caesar, the latter of which was featured in my Fresh Brewed Playlist # 2!
The album’s latest single “Tamagotchi” is a sexy, bouncy change of pace from the rest of the album as Apollo effortlessly raps in both English and Spanish. The high-octane track is a definite standout among the album, both exhilarating and memorable with its tongue in cheek lyrics. “Just hit me on FaceTime, feeling so good, feeling so good, singing a bass line, your body is on me, you touching up on me, we cum at thе same time.”
Another standout track is the brutally raw “Evergreen”, a song about the devastation of losing someone’s love- a feeling so universal and yet Apollo makes it feel so painfully personal. “You know you really made me hate myself, had to stop before I break myself, shoulda broke it off to date myself, you didn’t deserve me at all,” he sings on the bridge of the toll this love has taken on his mental health. He captures the pain of feeling as if you aren’t enough so vividly, even questioning if his body is what made his lover leave him in the first place. It’s that spiral we’ve all felt at one point, picking ourselves apart to try to explain why we weren’t enough for the one we loved.
“Personally” is another album standout and is my personal favorite from the track listing. The production is stripped back, mainly just an acoustic guitar and Apollo’s ethereal vocals which are layered so perfectly that they leave you hanging on every single word he sings. “Cause I really don’t wanna be here alone, too many people I don’t see no more, too many feelings I don’t feel no more,” the feeling of change and losing friends along the way give “Personally” an achingly vivid window into Apollo’s soul.
It would be impossible to compliment Omar’s vocals without highlighting the incredible vocal showcase that is “En El Olvido” which brings his Mexican heritage right to the forefront. In an interview with NPR, Apollo mentions how the song was inspired by his love of Juan Gabriel, who he grew up listening to. The song, which is a corrido, otherwise known as a Mexican ballad, feels so classic and yet it’s unlike anything I’ve heard on a Pop/R&B record like Ivory before.
After scrapping an album that he had worked on during the pandemic, Omar Apollo has graced the world with Ivory, which is an incredible piece of work that somehow gets better with every listen. His versatility and fluidity bring forth a charisma unlike any of his peers- leaving his listeners sure that they are taking in the art of a master at work. Apollo is set for superstardom, and if there’s any justice in this world, he will get the recognition he deserves.
LÉON’s third album Circles is a transcendent, ethereal journey of perseverance that assures that the Swedish artist is a once in a lifetime gift to music.
For her worldwide listeners, this is old news. Having released two near perfect albums with 2019’s self-titled LÉON and 2020’s Apart, the Swedish indie pop singer has garnered a massive following but still somehow remains right on the cusp of superstardom. If there’s any justice in this world, it’s all about to change with the release of Circles.
LÉON, aka Lotta Lindgren, explores a new chapter of her artistry here with 70’s grooves and stripped back moments that showcase her angelic tone and soul-baring lyricism. The four promotional singles that preceded the album’s release- “Dancer”, “Soaked”, “Fade into a Dream”, and “Wishful Thinking”- all set the tone of what was to come perfectly, but the true standouts are the deep cuts gifted to us all now.
“Wildest Dreams” is without a doubt the highlight of the album and perhaps her career. The Springsteen like saxophones and build in production create an outro so euphoric, it feels as if her vocals transport us towards liberation. “Come lay your weight upon me, lay your heart upon me, what are you waiting for,” she belts out after the final chorus, and the vocal layering is nothing short of exquisite. Listening with headphones is absolutely necessary.
Another album standout is “Look Like That”, a sexy, nostalgic vibe that brings you the most perfect Stevie Nicks like melody in the chorus. “What does it matter if it hurts just a little? Oh, don’t be stupid now, just meet me in the middle,” she begs her ex-lover in the bridge, admitting that just a single glance at him brings her right back.
What sets this album apart from her previous work however is where she leaves us in the end, with closing track “The Beach”. She uses the beach and the water to represent the heartbreak and grief that threatened to overtake her but, in the end, she finally finds her footing on the shore. As the production begins to rise and the drums begin to boom, she realizes that she can find a way out of her suffering.
“When the waves are crashing over, when I fear of letting go, reaching for the surface now I can see the shore. The strangest feeling hits me, that I’ve been here once before,” she leads us to catharsis on the bridge and closes the album out by reminding us that everything will be alright eventually. It’s impossible to not feel this release of anxiety and pain as the production slowly fades out, leaving us to heal in its wake.
The 11-track project is LÉON’s most personal to date, and therefore her most relatable. Every inch of the album is filled with emotion and introspection, gifted to us by an artist with the voice of an angel- perhaps given to the world to make us all feel less alone in our journeys.