#MusicMonday: TSwift gets all sentimental with new album ‘Lover’

If you’ve followed TSwift as long as I have (I mean the first time I heard her music I myspace messaged her. She didn’t reply, fyi), you know that Taylor has quite the reputation musically. She uses her personal experiences and many failed relationships to write songs from the heart and that is why her music still resonates despite her transition to pop from country in 2013.

Back with her seventh studio album, Taylor bring us lover released Friday August 23, 2019. Unlike the dark aggressive themes and musicality of her previous work ReputationLover is a love letter to love in all its maddening, passionate, exciting, enchanting, horrific, tragic, wonderful glory.

It has sounds of pop rock, synth pop, and electopop.

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Song by Song Review

I Forgot That You ExistedA cheery farewell to the events that inspired Reputation set to a minimalist piano arrangement and finger snaps. Instantly catchy tune. Definitely made me want to hear the rest of the album.

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CRUEL SUMMER: A synth pop song co-written with St. Vincent about a summer romance where there is some element of desperation and pain.

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Lover: All instruments used in the making of this track were made before 1970 which helps give this track it’s timeless feel. A country style waltz track meets a romantic but haunting song about being in love with love.

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The Man: An up-tempo synth pop anthem about the double standard women face about their actions and their words. I have never related more to a song in my life by Taylor Swift or anyone. It’s my favorite song on this album hands down.

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The Archer: A dream pop mid-tempo song that focuses on Swift’s flaws and insecurities within a relationship.

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I Think He Knows: The up-tempo funk-inspired love song about all the things you admire about a potential love. The song even contains a reference to Nashville’s music row.

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Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince: With an anti-“You Belong With Me” feel and theme compared to works Bruce Springsteen and Lana Del Rey about disillusionment of US Politics. Swift has recently come out politically as a proud Democrat and a silent supporter of Hilary Clinton.

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Paper Rings:  Bubbly pop punk track about committing to a relationship, forgo any formalities and marry him with homemade paper rings.

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Cornelia Street: A piano-backed ballad about a relationship  that may not survive, named after “Cornelia Street” a street in Greenwich Village where Swift used to rent an apartment.

 

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Death by A Thousand Cuts: A break up song inspired by the Netflix movie Someone Great, which was inspired by Swift’s album 1989. 

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London Boy: An up close and personal look at Swift’s  three year relationship with Joe Alewyn.pablo (88).png

Soon You’ll Get Better (ft. The Dixie Chicks):  A heavy banjo country ballad where Swift discusses her mother’s battle with cancer. It shows how there are real problems and there is everything else, and cancer is a real problem.

False God:  Using heavy religious imagery, it discusses the force between two people in a relationship as all-powerful and greater than themselves.

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You Need To Calm Down: A track with an electropop musicality about how social media gives us too much courage to bully and attack others.

Swift wrote this celebrating the LGBTQ+ community but slightly slanders Christians in the undertones.

Afterglow: A dream pop song about self-sabotaging a relationship, overreacting about a misunderstanding.

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Me!: A catchy pop track and the lead single off this album about self-love and confidence featuring frontman of Panic! at the Disco, Brendon Urie.

 

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It’s Nice To Have a Friend: A dreamy ballad infused with steel drums about two friends who meet in school and eventually end up married.

Daylight: A song reminiscing the pain and struggle of past relationships making you doubt your ability to find true love until she meets someone  who brightens her life in a new way.

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Lover by Taylor Swift will leave nothing unsaid and will read like all the great romances have since the beginning of time: void of time and space love is the greatest mystery and necessity vital to all of us as human beings.

 

 

#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.

#PoeticMuses: Your Heart Is The Sea by Nikita Gill

Naturally, I was floored when Thought Catalog reached out to me directly as someone they thought of to review Nikita Gill’s newest poetry collection. They sent me the book and from the second I opened it I had trouble putting it down. It was like slow waves that wash over you as you stand upon the ocean’s edge. Your toes sink into the sand as you step deeper and deeper into the water, wading into it until the bravest parts of you are under water and only your head is above.

The water gets rougher and you must fight against the current beneath you.

That is what this poetry book explores. The struggles we suffer within ourselves so the poetry book reads like you are taking a deep sea dive into the depths of your heart and soul.

It is complete and utter inked beauty and leaves you feeling at peace upon closing the back cover, much like a day spent upon the water does or sitting listening to the ocean waves crashing on a sandy beach. The salt air does wonders for the human heart, and this book is no exception to that notion. I recommend everyone read this much like I would recommend taking a cruise vacation or booking a weekend getaway to stay near the beach.

 

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WHY ARE WE ALL AFRAID TO BE? A poem about how the world makes you feel less than you are or small as person.

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I NAMED US GRIEF: a poem about wanting to be with someone or not being right for someone but you still wear black and mourn them as if a part of you has died.

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For additional poems from Nikita Gill’s poetry book Your Heart is the Sea, please follow the Smart Cookie on Instagram and Twitter.

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#MusicMonday: Kelly Clarkson gets back to her soulful sound with ‘Meaning of Life’

Kelly Clarkson is only 36 years young and she’s already had a Greatest Hits Album. The original American Idol winner is back to her signature soulful sound with her eighth studio album Meaning of Life.  It was released on October 27, 2017 and debuted on the US Billboard Hot 200 at #2.

Song by Song Review

A Minute (Intro): 

A broken down minute long r&b track about needing a minute to be yourself. Written and produced by The Monarch with writing input from Jim McCormick and Katie Pearlman, was primarily made for Clarkson, whose hectic family and work life have made it hard for her to take a minute break for herself.

Love So Soft: 

A soul-trap anthem, very different from Clarkson’s usual stuff, picks up where Duffy’s “Mercy” left off. With Clarkson’s usual attitude, it tells a love story about something palpable between two people, “if you break it, you buy it” type love. Written by hitmaker Priscilla Renea.

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Heat: A catchy soul-trap pop sound paints a track where you are begging someone for a hot as coals type of love, one that has you warm all over, smiling from ear to ear.

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Meaning of Life: the title track and the song that started the entire project. The vibe, soul and message of this song showcases Clarkson’s new direction musically. It is a track that has an r&b signature sound but about a love that brightens the colors around you & catches you completely brand new.

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Move You: A ballad with a drum-string combination about wanting to make such a lasting impact on someone you end up moving them.

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Whole Lotta Woman: A body positive and female empowerment song about being loud & proud of your shape, your curves, and confidence in your femininity.

My favorite song on the album because it has the signature sound of a Clarkson anthem but with a powerful progressive measure. March on, ladies. Own who you are.

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Medicine: Schultz and Harlœ co-wrote and produced the seventh track “Medicine” as a tribute to the ’90s and was inspired by Carey’s song “Emotions” (1991). It has an up-tempo pop musicality which sets the stage  for this track about a past lover who she has moved on from who did nothing for her.

Cruel: An r&b jazz pop fusion about a hard to love lover that you are commanding respect from.

Didn’t I: A pop soul track about a lover you gave the moon, sun, and stars to and her or she took you for granted.

Would You Call That Love: A track about how someone loves you but they love you with a complete dichotomy of what love is supposed to be.

I Don’t Think About You: The soul-infused power-ballad chronicles losing a prominent love in your life only to realize you’re better off without them.

Slow Dance: A slow tempo ballad about taking things slow in order to let the fire or heat between two people simmer.

Don’t You Pretend: A slow tempo song that begs a man to be honest about his true feelings, and quit pretending he doesn’t feel the same.

Go High: A song about staying kind in a world that tries to turn you wicked, sour, and miserable.

Overall, Meaning of Life doesn’t have one bad song. It is short but sweet, and shows depth, growth, and wisdom of Clarkson’s person and artistry.

 

 

#NationalPoetryMonth Book Review: Love In Between by Mercy Jane Ballesteros

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Written in vignette-style sections and sonnet-like eloquence, “Love In Between” showcases strong writing from a young author who also makes a statement about young love being very real, and practically unavoidable.

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With themes of young love, unrequited love, and torturous heartbreak, even loving someone who pines for someone else, Mercy’s poetry gives me still the same “you aren’t alone,” calm sensation that I have while reading the work of International best-sellers like Lang Leav.

Mercy’s poetry overall will leave you falling in love with the writer behind the few but powerful words.

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CALLING ALL POETS and MICROPOETS! April is National Poetry Month and as always, I celebrate all month long by showcasing a new poem every day on my social media pages and by reviewing primarily poetry books all month long. So if you are a poet who knows it, and you have a book already out or about to come out, please email me by March 26, 2018 to be featured for the month of April. And yes, you get to skip the wait list line for free due to the high demand!

Send me your poetry graphics, Instagram poet recommendations, and poetry book review requests to wittywriterpoet26@gmail.com

So much love,

The Smart Cookie

 

 

#NationalPoetryMonth: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Poetry is like reading one of those little notes you used to pass around in middle school. So short and sweet but if you found one laying on the ground or accidentally got passed one, it was like you got to be part of the secret, and you instantly felt like you weren’t alone in your feelings.

Milk and Honey is like that. It’s short, sweet, and oh so vital for today’s society. It says so much without saying it that by the end of the book, you feel as though you want to hug Rupi Kaur for all she writes about but also feel that if she hugged you back, it would be because you experienced similar situations which is why her words jumped off the page and danced before you a private ballet.

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The second read through of Milk and Honey showed the heartaches I was most familiar with and how Kaur’s words healed them.

When my sisters both read her book, I actually rolled my eyes because why would they fall head over heals for a book unless it was popular. Then, I retracted that eye roll when (plus I realized my sisters don’t read that much) I started reading it and Kaur’s words grabbed me by the shirt collar like a thug on the street looking to rob me but then mistakenly realized I was a long lost cousin and smoothed down my shirt and said, Coffee?

So we sat down metaphorically and sipped coffee and discussed the four different heartaches we’ve known:

  1.  The Hurting 
  2. The Loving
  3. The Breaking
  4. The Healing

As you can see from my notes, the poems in the Breaking and Healing sections spoke the most to my wallflower heart. Without further ado, here is some of my favorite poems shared with public permission from Rupi Kaur’s Facebook page:

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I want to marry this poem and divorce it all in the same moment.

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#BookReview: ‘Pour Me A Life’ left me Drunk In Love With It’s Prose

Since venturing into writing my own memoir, I’ve fallen deep for the genre itself. Now it’s one of my favorites. I don’t know what ever made me accept this book for reading but I am so glad that it ended up in my TBR pile.

 

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Click here to buy a copy of Pour Me, A Life

 

Pour Me A Life

A.A Gill

Rating: Five Out of Five Cookies

Hailing from England comes the author in his own words telling the tale of his life thus far.

At it’s worst, I didn’t agree with everything the author said throughout the book but he made me understand where he was coming from and how he felt through many a defining experiences, and I found myself making sure I was still breathing because his words stole the wind right out of my lungs in the best way.

His prolific vocabulary made me feel like I was back in college active reading a textbook that I actually wanted to read instead of active skimming.

One of my favorite lines that I personally related to as an artist I will share:

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I’ve read many memoirs but this one left me addictively waiting for more.