#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

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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.

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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: Lauren Daigle’s second album explores who God says you are and challenges the world to silence the voices that say otherwise

Hailing from Lafayette, Louisiana and was influenced by Zydeco, blues and Cajun music in her environment from youth, Daigle was born to be a musician.

Her mother referred to her childhood home as “the music box” because she was always singing. She never considered music seriously until she contracted infectious  mononucleuosis. It kept her out of school for nearly two years.

Following finishing charter school with hopes of working in the medical field and do mission work, she took a year off from school to do mission work in Brazil before attending Louisiana State University for child and family studies.

She joined and soon led the choir at LSU.

With her family encouraging her to audition for American Idol in 2010 and 2012. She was cut before the Top 24 in 2010. In 2011, she did not make it to Hollywood. She made it to Hollywood in 2012 but was cut in the first Las Vegas round.

Her first full-length album (April 14, 2015) debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart. It broke Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 200.

Look Up, Child debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 200 with “You Say” staying at #1 for fifty three weeks on the Hot Christian songs chart and further won a 2019 Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music performance/song.

Look Up, Child was released on September 7,, 2018 via Centricity Music.

 

Song For Song Review

Still Rolling Stones: A song about how God’s power is both infinite and infallible. Daigle performed this song on The Ellen Show live.

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Rescue: Showcasing the aspect of God’s willingness to go to great lengths to rescue us, even when we think no one can hear us. It is performed from God’s perspective. The song was written for people that are experiencing the darkest of turmoil, and in that collision, a comfort comes.

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This Girl: A soulful song about wanting to let God know out of everything, she wants Him to know she is fully and completely offering her heart.

Your Wings: A song with multiple references to Psalm 91 about how God promises to cover those who trust in him. Daigle said the musicality and the beat are her favorite on the whole album.

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You Say: A song discussing the question and identity and how a believer’s foundational truth regarding their identity should come from who God says they are.

Everything: A song written for when you are overwhelmed in a time of deprivation and weariness.

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Love Like This: One of my favorites off the album for its musicality that, in my opinion, mimics a spiritual awakening and for its message about God’s unconditional yet unthinkable love.

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Look Up, Child: A fun Carribean style musicality makes up this upbeat track about looking to God always whatever the situation.

Losing My Religion

Losing My Religion: My favorite song on the entire album for its message about how when you truly know Christ, it becomes more about a faith relationship and less about religious ideology.

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Remember: Co-written with Chris Tomlin, this gospel-like anthem brings all miracles past and present into recollection so the believer can focus on God’s almighty power and know he works for the good of those that love him.

Rebel Heart: A declaration of faith to God saying that I’m ready to trust you completely and take this “rebel heart” and make it new.

Inevitable: A song about fighting doubts and unbelief with the truth, “God will always carry me.”

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus: Lauren finishes the album with her own rendition of this Helen Holsworth song.

Whether you are struggling to see the good, focus on the present, or are being bombarded by a heavy and black sadness, whatever you are struggling and suffering with mentally, emotionally, and/or physically, Daigle’s second album offers a song for whatever it may be and as you begin to sing along, a spirit of praise will rise up within and the clouds will start to break, and the light will peak through slowly but surely.

#MusicMonday: Jonny Lang’s fourth album is a bluesy depiction of the ‘signs’ of the times

Called the best blues album of 2017 by AllMusic, Signs is Lang coming back from previous works that had a more gospel feel to his blues roots that got him a record deal at only 16.

Song by Song Review

Make It Move: A bluesy rock song about the mountains in your life and how you got to make it move and stop waiting around for things to happen.

Snakes: Bluesy rock and roll song reminiscent of “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley about snakes in the grass or the things in life that try to get you off course.

Last Man Standing: A fast-paced bluesy song about fighting through the hard times.

Signs: Soulful track about the signs of the times we are living in may be end times.

What We Are Made Of: A song about how the trials of life help show what you’re made of.

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Bitter Ends: A soulful song with a gospel feel questioning the various motives of humans; the why behind what we do.

Stronger Together: A cheerful gospel like track about how we’re made to love and be loved.

Into The Light: Another gospel like track about the struggle between good and evil.

Bring Me Back Home: A soft piano ballad about coming home to the person you love.

Wisdom: A slow song about the power of wisdom

Singing Songs: An acoustic finale to this album

#MusicMonday: Happiness Begins

The Jonas Brothers have saved 2019. Before you roll your eyes and exit out of this window, please hear me out here. See, The Jonas Brothers actually tried returning as a band in 2013 but people forget about it. They released a single entitled “Pom Poms” in anticipation of their fifth studio album and even performed it on an awards show but it just sounded like a song you release when you want to give up on yourself. Gone are the purity rings now traded in for wedding rings and they are back and better than ever.

Sure this review may be entirely biased as I became a Jonas Brothers fan in 2006 and have never wavered in my support of them. I even supported each brother’s individual ventures: Kevin’s reality show (Married To Jonas, E!), Joe’s solo career then as the lead singer of DNCE, and Nick’s solo venture (Nick and The Administration) and Nick’s successful solo career (Jealous, Chains off Last Year Was Complicated).

Now that Kevin is happily married with two kids, Nick is newly married to actress Priyanka Chopra, and Joe has found lasting love and newly married to Sophie Turner (GOT), they are now fully men putting out music that speaks to the wisdom they have obtained in the ten years they were apart as a group Happiness Begins has themes of exploration and maturity and it follows the release of their Amazon Prime Video documentary Chasing Happiness, which preludes their brotherly memoir coming in November entitled Blood. Even with ten years apart, this album Happiness Begins debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Song by Song Review

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SUCKER: Their first single in ten years and an upbeat pop song about being infatuated with someone and someone you would go for great lengths for. The light rock instrumental is minimal, leaving the central focus being on the brother’s vocals on their comeback single. “Sucker” debuted at #1 on the week of it’s release (March 16, 2019) on the Billboard Hot 100. They are the first group to debut at #1 in this century.

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COOL: The second single off this album contains various references to the brothers’ personal and professional achievements from their time apart. The song and subsequent music video have a strong 80’s aesthetic. It is supposed to be reminiscent of 1984’s Miami and timeless eighties MTV in all it’s decadent glory, according to the band. The single debuted at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100 upon it’s release.

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ONLY HUMAN: My favorite song on this comeback album because it’s reggae musicality  that makes you want to dance. This track is an ode to the band’s love for 80’s music.

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I BELIEVE: A synth-slow jam detailing Nick’s whirlwind romance with wife, Priyanka Chopra.

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USED TO BE: A pop song about seeing a past lover living their life without you and how it brings back old emotions and memories.

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EVERY SINGLE TIME: Electronic pop musicality about an on and off again lover who doesn’t have real feelings but you catch yourself always thinking about, as if the fact that they can’t love you or .don’t want you makes you want them more for a challenge.

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DON’T THROW IT AWAY: An upbeat pop country song about a relationship that could end but instead is being urged to not give up so quickly.

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LOVE HER: A soft romantic pop ballad showcasing the growth and maturity have regarding love and relationships. It discusses the sacrifices of being in loving relationship and what you do when you love someone.

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HAPPY WHEN I’M SAD: For some particular reason, I think of Rooney whenever this song comes on (When Did Your Heart Go Missing?) It’s a track about how people judge based on face value, and don’t really connect anymore.

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TRUST: A bluesy track that discusses being unable to control your senses and your emotions around someone.

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STRANGERS: A song about realizing your instantly closer than you thought you were  with someone as your relationship progresses over time.

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HESITATE: Joe’s love letter to his wife, Sophie Turner about wanting to carry the burdens of the person you love without hesitation.

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ROLLERCOASTER: A nostalgic pop track reminiscing the band’s success. Seeing the more positive, shining moments of fame versus to the scary, negative ones.  Following signing first in 2006 with Columbia Records and then tranferring to Hollywood Records in 2007 after gaining an immense amount of traction from their single, “Year 3000,” but the boys officially broke up as a band in 2010.

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Because I don’t like to fangirl except on video if you want all the extras I don’t include in the review, please make sure to watch my newest episode of #MusicalNotes.

 

 

 

 

#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.

 

 

#MusicMonday: Pink’s Beautiful Trauma is raw and vulnerable in all her signature colorful ways

P!nk is hands down one of my favorite pop artists and it isn’t because she has the most amazing voice or has songs with popping beats but because she’s 100% herself with everything she puts out musically, and usually it always has connotations of female empowerment and encouraging young women to break glass ceilings and if they happen to not fit inside the box society tries to put them in…oh fucking well.

Beautiful Trauma was released in October of 2017 which meant it was her first album in five years time. The album debuted at #1 during it’s release week before ranking at #30 on the Billboard Hot 200.

When I first listened to it, I wasn’t sure I was a fan of it. Yet, it took a good ten listens for me to realize the amazing artistry hidden within each song and I do hope my review highlights the greatness of Pink’s Beautiful Trauma.

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Song by Song Review

Beautiful Trauma: The title track opens the album with a track about how life’s trauma can turn to beauty over time, and musically describes a love relationship that bubbles and fizzes at just the right temperature to keep one sane.

Whatever You Want: This uplifting power ballad finds the singer fighting for a relationship that seems doomed.pablo (27)

What About Us: Anthem-like musicality made this a great first single off the album with lyrics speaking to the heart of love and trust whether that be between two people or within society as a whole.

But We Lost It: A piano ballad that discusses a relationship that charged with so much positivity (joy, happiness, and peace) but time wasn’t on their side. Almost like a spark between two people that flickers, dims, and dies.

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Barbies: My favorite song on the entire album because of it’s soft musicality mixed with lullaby-like elements. It perfectly expresses that adult moment when nostalgia seems to take over and all you want to do is go back to being a kid with naivete and innocence “playing barbies in your room.” Co-written by Julia Michaels.

Where We Go: Catchy pop rock musicality make this worth a few listens, with a lyrical tale about letting go of a relationship that is doomed for disaster.

For Now: A song about reminiscing an old flame and getting stuck on the highs without realizing the lows.pablo (29).png

Secrets: A song about a truth about life and all of us have secrets or private parts we don’t express to just anyone.

Better Life: A track discussing the highlight reel effect social media has on all of us.

I Am Here: A brand new ballad version of Just Like Fire, expressing realizing you are enough as is ,and you are here in this moment.

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken:

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A political yet poetic ballad about 19th century women and incorporates the #MeToo movement.

You Get My Love: The final track on the album emotionally pleading and raw about the gift of her love.

 

#BookReview: Does God exist? Silva offers expansive proof.

I’ve never wondered if God exists or not. I have, though, doubted God working in my life or that he could fix the broken pieces of my heart, at times. Yet, that is because I was always raised to have faith, and it was a foundation that stuck, even though my church family has changed over the years.

Yet, a lot of people are not like me in that way, they were either raised in a faith-based home and chose to rebel by choosing a whole new faith, or they just saw no use for God in their life.

If you are one of the many who has kept an open mind in terms of God and God’s existence, this is the perfect book to add to your TBR list.

Some features of this book include:

  • Reads like a textbook
  • very thorough
  • presented all sides of the argument without showing bias
  • proved that God exists
  • ends with a collection of quotes from famous scientists quoting that God, without a doubt, is scientifically proven to exist.

Yet, I won’t just share that this book proves that God exists but once you read it, you will see the many ways that you encounter every day that stand as explicit proof.

 

 

#BookReview: Let’s Meet God by Chris Hearn

As a believer, I always love returning to the basics of my faith. That’s why from the very beginning of this short but sweet Bible companion, I enjoyed each entry in this book of FAQ’s about the Christian faith.

This 78 page book discusses the Christian faith in an open-minded and easy to read format. It is written as a frequently asked question page for a website but for Christianity or someone new to the faith. It allows anyone to find out more about God through faith in Christ Jesus, while still remaining scholarly.