#MusicMonday: Holding My Breath showcases McLaughlin’s breathless songwriting

McLaughlin is no stranger to taking anyone’s breath away. The first time I ever saw him open for Kelly Clarkson I was unfamiliar with his music or even who he was but was instantly drawn to his honest, heartfelt lyricism that he penned on his own and his expertise with a piano. He made playing the piano seem as cool as being a drummer or an electric guitar player.

He quickly got a lot of attention and even appeared in the Disney movie Enchanted as himself. He even dueted with pop songstress and Broadway legend Sara Baraielles.

Holding My Breath is McLaughlin’s fourth studio album and was released on September 24, 2013.

The album was made exclusively for the fans and created with the site Pledgemusic. It got #8 on the Billboard Top Christian albums chart and #141 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Song by Song Review

Above The Radio:  A piano rock track about slowing down and listening to the music of life

Jon McLaughlin

Hallulejah: A fun jazzy like track about not losing your soul in the pursuit of material things

Doesn’t Mean Goodbye: A piano ballad about fighting through the rough patches of the love between you and that special someone.

Anybody Else: A piano pop song about seeing someone you used to be involved with and how it brings back all the memories

Oh, Jesus: A heartfelt promise to Jesus that no matter how black and blue life gets, he will thank God for Jesus.

Broken Hearted: A song about how even though a broken heart is painful, the sun will warm the cold desolate pieces of it’s brokenness and you will love again because you can’t love again until you’ve been  broken hearted.

Fire Away: A slow song about a stillness between you and another because of tensions between you

Oh!: A pop rock track about someone pulling away from a shot of love between the two of you

Imaginary Tea: A song McLaughlin wrote about a tender father-daughter relationship.

The Truth: A song with a mysterious jazzy blue feel about someone who spread lies and was found out

Throw It On The Fire: A song about a love that still embers but no longer burns bright enough to survive.

At Night: A final instrumental piano track

Holding My Breath is a effortless peek into this musician’s heart and all that keeps him breathing. Some of these items include: staying true to himself, his faith, his family, and love with the right person. McLaughlin’s independent project was crowd funded for good reason: he was meant to sing a breathless song.

#MusicMonday: William’s personal struggle with depression brings themes of the realities of adulthood with ‘After Laughter’

Paramore has been one of my favorite bands since high school. I would ride to school listening to “Misery Business,” and relating to everything on Riot! I also found it entirely bold and daring of Williams who was only 16 when the band got it’s start wore bright orange hair. Williams songwriting spoke to me as an angsty teenager who felt misunderstood, undermined, and never ever good enough, it helped me cope through all those feelings and become a writer myself, and later a teenage author at only 15.

Released on May 12, 2017 as follow-up to their 2013 self-titled album comes a huge change for the band both sonically and lyrically.

The album contains dark lyrics over fun and poppy melodies Williams has been very open about her struggles with depression: “It means that look on a person’s face when they laugh really hard and then there’s this moment when they come back to reality.”

Drummer Zac Farro rejoined the band in 2017. After Laughter debuted at number six on the US Billboard Hot 200.

Song by Song Review

Hard Times: A playful eighties vibe contrast hard hitting lyrics showcasing growing up and Williams’ personal struggle with depression.

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Rose-Colored Boy: A song about feeling pressure to look at the world with blind optimism when you actually feel very hopeless about the world and your part in it. There is so much social pressure to be “happy” that we can actually feel shame when we aren’t.

Told You So: With a central theme is built around the common phrase, “Hate to say I told you so” which is typically said in a condescending disapproving manner. A track about struggles faced when people watching your every move waiting for you to make a mistake.

Forgiveness: Throughout “Forgiveness” Hayley talks about forgiveness and redemption between her and the other band members and troublesome moments with her partner at the time.

Fake Happy: A song showcasing how much we as humans can hide underneath our smiles. Despite being bright and bubbly at our best, there are some moments that you can’t fake the happiness.

26: About not losing hope and staying a dreamer, the musicality is acoustic and very authentically transparent.

Pool: 80’s new wave synth pop musicality creates a cool but dark love song about the highs and lows of loving someone

Grudges: A song about Zac Farro’s return to the band in 2017 after he left in 2010.

Grudges Paramore

Caught in the Middle: Williams confronts the concept of getting older. Combined with a contrasting light and danceable beat, Paramore shares the harsh feeling of seeing the years piling up. This song can also be seen as a fight with depression. Sometimes, the simple act of moving forward in life is a tedious task.

No Friend: An outro track to “Idle Worship” containing spoken word poetry from Aaron Weiss from MeWithoutYou.

Tell Me How: The final track about being at a crossroads in life. It’s a slow moving laiden track showing optimism toward the band’s future.

Paramore shows us that whether you are looking at the world with ‘Brand New Eyes’ or allowing the ‘Riot!’ within to speak up boldly. ‘After Laughter’ showcases a brand new maturity toward the realities and struggles of being a thirty-something adult in today’s world. And I am enamored by all that the band puts out both sonically and lyrically.

 

#MusicMonday: Sheeran showcases the ‘divide’ between human and musician with third studio album

Ed Sheeran has always known how to make me smile. His songwriting has never left me disappointed. This English showman has always been able to enrapture all those that listen to his music with just him and his guitar, and a peddle machine.

Divide debuted at #1 and stayed there in its second week.

Eraser: A fun opening track to the album; a declaration of intent mixing hip-hop with a chorus.

It discusses Sheeran’s upbringing and his small town beginnings singing in the choir in the Catholic church and then being a busker during his teen years. It also references the temptations artist’s face whether it be drugs, girls, etc.

Castle On The Hill: A love song for Sheeran’s hometown of Suffolk, England. Guitar driven it is a “life affirming pop rocket.”

Dive: Written about his wife with themes of vulnerability, a sense of devotion and emotional reflection, with a musicality that emulates the classic fifties and early sixties soul/stax ballad arpeggio and time sequence. It was co-written with Julia Michaels.

Shape of You: Originally written by Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC and meant for pop singer Rihanna, the track is about a strong physical attraction. Musically, it is based around a tropical-house inspired lead melody and dancehall beat. A rhythm is given by xylophones, guitars, and percussion.

Perfect: A love ballad written and inspired by the love between him and his wife Cherry Seaborn. It was written remininscent of Sheeran’s song he wrote for One Direction, “18.”

Galway Girl: My favorite song on the record for its fun Irish folk musicality. Musically influenced by Van Morrison’s Irish Heartbeat, A “Galway Girl” describes a black haired and blue eyed woman from the city of Galway.

Happier: A standout ballad with mature lyrics about a failed relationship who has already found a new man.

New Man: A fun fast-flowing song about an ex who has changed because of him and these toxic changes have led to her looking for satisfaction elsewhere.

Hearts Don’t Break Around Here: A ballad for his wife Cherry Seaborn, showing Sheeran’s softer side.

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What Do I Know?: Despite not having the education or being the smartest, he uses his music to change the world.

How Would You Feel: A paen is a work that praises or honors its subject and also the middle name of his now wife Cherry Seaborn. A really emotional song about realizing how much you love someone.

Supermarket Flowers: A tribute to Sheeran’s late grandmother, comparing her to an angel.

Barcelona: Ode to the great Spanish city’s vibrant history and culture contain Latin musicality and Spanish guitars.

Bibia Be Ye Ye: A song written in Ghanian dialect meaning “everything will be alright.”

Nancy Mulligan: Full on Irish traditional song that pays tribute to Sheeran’s paternal grandparents, Anne “Nancy” Mulligan and William “Bill” Sheeran. His grandparents had a Romeo and Juliet romance.

Save Myself: A final song speaking to the importance of self-care and self-love. A soft song with a strong piano musicality.

Sheeran’s third album seeks to showcase him exploring both sides of himself, the musician side and the human side but seeks to bond the world with it’s wholesome themes of spreading love and recklessly falling in love with yourself and when the time comes, someone who accepts the entire you that you are and will be.