Sometimes you put an album on and instantly feel it was exactly what you needed to hear following some traumatic experiences.
That’s what Rare started out as for me. Like a private message or a text from a close friend about what you went through, what you feel, and how to get past it, this album was the healing soundtrack I needed to press play on.
Like even the week it was released January 10, 2020 was so timely, and divinely gifted to me when I didn’t know how to feel about the first week of the year which was jam packed with chaos and a cacophony of bullshit.
Channeling Paula Abdul for the 21st century, Gomez’s third studio album quickly charted the Billboard 200 at #1.
It’s a midtempo pop and dance album with influences from electronic, latin pop, and R& B. Lyrically, it’s themes are self-love, acceptance, and empowerment.
Click the above graphic to listen to the album while reading this review.
Rare: Gomez’s favorite song off this new album with a sound of compromised backing vocals and muffled instruments as if the whole thing has been dunked underwater. The song is a self-empowerment anthem about independence and self-love.
Dance Again: Blended genres of funk, dance, electro, and electropop. It’s lowkey yet infectious musically. It’s main message is acceptance.
I kickstart the rhythm. All the trauma’s in remission. No, I don’t need permission.
Look at Her Now: Reviewed in a previous post but this is an upbeat song about becoming stronger person after a turbulent relationship. Acknowledging that you mess up and you go through stuff but you always come out of it just feeling like a boss.
Lose You to Love Me: The only ballad on this album. It has bare bones production, plucked violins, booming bass, tearjerker piano, an orchestra, and multi-layered vocals from Gomez. It was produced and co-written with Billie Eillish’s partner in crime Finneas. The melancholy lyrics talk about her split from ex, Justin Bieber.
Ring: The latin-influenced track has musicality that is likened to Goyte’s Somebody I Used to Know and Santana’s Smooth. It’s about expecting the best & realizing you deserve the best.
Vulnerable: My favorite song off the album because of it’s unbreakable huge heart type love themes and so many beautiful lyrics. A warm disco and electropop record with a moody synth groove and elements of italo disco and tropical house.
People You Know: Electropop musicality contrast this melancholy song about the pain of come and go people friends, lovers, and acquaintances.
Let Me Get Me: Influences of Latin music on the upbeat and dance-floor ready song about lyrically coming out of body and detaching herself from the thoughts in her head, and she doesn’t want the joy she feels to be shot down.
Crowded Room: R&B song about the instant connection you have with someone across a crowded room.
Kinda Crazy: Tongue in cheek tune and sinuous kiss-off driven by a clean bluesy guitar lick and accompanying horns, about a lover who mixed his signals and changed his tune.
Fun: Playful and catchy co-written with Julia Michaels about a casual relationship with someone not good for her
Cut You Off: A slinky downtempo pop song with influences of funk and a slam jam about moving on from a relationship and the empowerment you feel.
How could I confuse that shit for love?
A Sweeter Place: An R&B collaboration with Kid Cudi about finding a place free of worry and brighter days are ahead.
Gomez hits it out of the park with this treasure of a musical masterpiece. It proves she’s a strong artist, strong human, and yes in fact, very rare in today’s musical scope.
Born and raised in Pensecola, FL, Zach Williams now resides in Jonesboro, Arkansas. In 2007-2016, Williams was lead singer of christian band Zach Williams and the reformation until they disbanded in 2012.
He became a solo artist with Dove Award winning “makes you want to dance” Church Choir, and followed up with another chart-topping song “Fear is A Liar.”
Released on October 4, 2019 Williams’s Rescue Story debuted on the Christian Billboard chart at #2, and includes a duet that saw a lot of radio play “There was Jesus” featuring country music legend Dolly Parton.
Song by Song Review
Walk With You: A song about temptation and how even in the midst of it we can walk with Jesus.
Less Like Me: A song about wanting to emulate Jesus and the fruits of the Spirit.
Rescue Story: The first single off the album and title track, it’s gospel musicality tells every believer’s story centers around the moment when Jesus rescued each of us and continues to rescue us each day of our lives.
Stand Up: My favorite song on the album for its fun bouncy celebratory musicality about feeling overwhelmed by Jesus’s mighty power and love.
Slave To Nothing: A bluesy style praise declaration: “I’m a slave to nothing.”
Under My Feet: A song telling the enemy he has no power or authority here.
There was Jesus ft. Dolly Parton: A song that reminds you that Jesus is always there for us and walking alongside
Heaven Help Me: A song you sing when life gets heavy
Baptized: A song about feeling redeemed
Face To Face: A song about heaven and seeing Jesus face to face
Overall, Williams will help any believer believe again, be baptized anew, and receive all the Lord has planned for you.
Alessia Cara jumped into the world’s playlist with a song about feeling out of place at a party. With her second album, Cara comes across as more mature in her songwriting and sound. It was inspired by her brother talking to her about being a teenager and he used the phrase “Growing Pains.” Cara used that to fuel the cohesiveness of this body of work.
Although the album didn’t make the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 200, many critics felt that Cara made this album sound like “big sister pop”, and praised her songwriting.
I personally think this album is another great work from the artist, and once again, relate to her vulnerability and authenticity in her songwriting. She sings what we are all thinking and has the audacity to be brave enough to sing it out loud.
[reviewer’s note: views my own; click the title of each track in the review to be re-routed to the audio or music video of each track]
Growing Pains: A song about that moment when you realize how painful it is to be an adult and how you are all alone. It talks about loss of innocence and how frightening it is to take on adult responsibilities.
I Don’t Want To: My favorite song on this album because it’s so simplistic in it’s musicality and acoustic vocalization. In the song Alessia talks about someone she broke up with, she talks about how she still wants to be with them and how she doesn’t want to let go of them. She also mentions how she wants to get rid of everything her previous significant other left in her room, or the things that reminder her of them, but she doesn’t want to let go of those memories
7 Days: The coolest thing to happen to pop music is that more and more secular artists are acknowledging God in pop music. It’s a song asking God whether he cares about what is going on lately because everything in the US popular culture seems depressing, hopeless, and negative. Alessia said about this song:
I wrote this song during a time which I feel like is still going on when you could not turn on social media or the news without seeing something frustrating. I was raised in a Catholic household and I wanted to have a conversion with whoever is up there… like, ‘Are you mad at us? What is the purpose? We need some help’… [I took] that concept that God created the earth in seven days and I wanted to ask God if we we’re worth those seven days… so this is for anyone out there that has any questions because I certainly do.
Comfortable: A song about learning all you can about someone you are in a relationship and you’ve reached this slightly stagnant stage of being comfortable with one another. In this song she sings about her doubts and how that stage in a relationship can’t be dodged and how she accepts that she is in the comfortable stage with her lover and she realizes it’s not as bad as she thought it was going to be.
Out of Love: This song was inspired by a friend’s breakup and talks about processing how someone falls out of love with someone. It’s a question we as humans perplex as we grow which is why it is so vital to the cohesiveness of this album.
Girl Next Door: A simple song showcasing how Cara grows in fame and success, she will always stay the simple girl she was before. She will wear what she wants and do what she wants, not following trends or the pressures of Hollywood.
Overall, Cara grew in her songwriting and maturity as an artist, and this album is all but painful to listen to, over and over.
Although this album came out in 2017, Mandisa’s fifth studio album has a strong and timely message for a dark and divided world. After suffering from a deep depression following the death of friend and background singer Lakisha Mitchell who lost a long battle with breast cancer who decided to carry her unborn child instead of treat her cancer with aggressive chemo therapy. This album was born from all that pain and heartache. Out of The Dark is filled with songs of hope, resilience, & reminders that God is still working, no matter the circumstance.
Song by Song Review
Voicemail Intro: A track showing backstory to the album that a dark trial or tribulation had just occurred and Mandisa’s friends were calling to encourage her and check on her.
I’m Still Here: My favorite song on the entire album for the message of still having unfinished work to do in and through me by God. This track was co-written with Matthew West.
Out of The Dark: A song about how God’s grace brings light seeping into the broken messes in our lives and begins to heal us.
Unfinished: The message of Unfinished is that even with all my mistakes, God is not done making me into a masterpiece; that he’s still working on me.
Bleed The Same (Intro): This track features pastor and renowned singer in his own right Kirk. He speaks about the injustices and the inequalities facing the world today followed by the song of the same name.
Bleed The Same: (ft. Toby Mac)
My second favorite song on this album because it is a beautiful way to shine God’s love and light into our divisive and hurting world, so we should come together and be peaceable with one another.
A song about having the propensity to come back no matter the difficulty or hardship we faced.
What You’re Worth: (ft. Britt Nicole)
A song written in honor of survivors of human trafficking. It is ultimately an anthem for women to not let your worth be tied to your body.
Dear John Praise Report:
A quick into to the next track (Good News) sharing that Mandisa’s brother became a born-again Christian.
Co-written with Matthew West, a pop and dancy praise song about the good news of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and personal moments of glory in our every day life.
Prove Me Wrong:
A song about the moments when something happens that devastates us & makes us question God’s love and faithfulness. This song was written in memory of Mandisa’s friend and back-up singer Lakisha Mitchell.
A spoken story about Mandisa’s revelation about Jesus.
The One He Speaks Through:
A song about being God’s hands & feet.
A catchy reminder that we weren’t called to be small or dim the light within us but we were called to be a bright light burning bright shining for Jesus.
My First Love (ft. Jeremy Camp):
A song based on Jeremiah 31:3
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
Jesus is and always longs to be our first love.
Overall, this album has been on repeat for a while and every time one of these songs comes on shuffle, I smile because I am reminded that because of God’s grace, I will always have good news.
Click the graphic below for the Musical Notes video that corresponds with the review.
Growing up, I was drawn to the song “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. I didn’t know why then (now I’m aware that her vocals on that piece were raw, honest, and carried you on an emotional journey despite the track being less than two minutes in length), my dad and I would just bond over how much that song spoke to us.
In much the same way, April Martin’s music speaks in a similar way: her vocals carry you on an emotional journey of where her heart has been, and her music reminds all who listen to it of greats like Loretta Lynn, Rosanne Cash, and Gillian Welch.
Click the image below to hear In The Blink of Life in it’s entirety.
April Martin started her professional life as a Ph.D. in clinical
psychology and maintains a successful practice in New York City. Though
she made up songs in her head from as far back as she can remember, she
didn’t begin writing them down until later in life.
Her first album, Pennies in a Jar, was released in 2010, and garnered
more than 10,000 fans worldwide on Internet radio. This album, In the
Blink of a Life, takes her exploration of the human heart – which is
done with tenderness, humor, and passion, to greater depths of
reflection and maturity.
On her work on this album and as a musician as a whole, April explains:
“When I was a child in the 1950’s you could
get a song sheet for 5 cents at the corner candy store with the lyrics
to tunes on the Hit Parade. My dad, whose natural tenor voice was always
bursting into song, would give me a nickel each week when the new ones
came out. Together we learned songs like “Secret Love”, “How Much Is
That Doggie in the Window?”, and “Oh My Pa-Pa.” These were some of the
happiest moments of my childhood.
Those songs were my constant companions. I overheard my first grade
teacher complaining, “If that child doesn’t stop humming I will go
crazy.” I hummed the tunes and memorized the words, which spoke life’s
truths to my little heart. I knew for a fact that love is a many
splendored thing, that Davey Crockett was king of the wild frontier, and
that when you load sixteen tons all you get is another day older and
deeper in debt. My musical tastes may have broadened, but to this day
I’m drawn to the simplicity of a song that makes me laugh or cry or
wonder about something that rings deeply true.
Songwriting came to me half a lifetime later, after spending decades
immersed in the human condition as a psychologist and a parent of three
children. To my surprise I found myself humming tunes I’d never heard
before and giving voice to things that welled up in me.
With every song I write I’m grateful to the people who trust me with
their vulnerabilities and joys, to my children who made me understand
love as never before, and to my dad who brought those wonderful songs
into my young world.”
Song By Song review:
One Breath: This song speaks volumes about something we all forget and we need a major reminder of in today’s world. We only have now. We must take life one breath at a time. Favorite line “It’s all about now, the why, and the how. It’s all about love.”
Heart Break Doesn’t Come: My favorite song off the album solely because of it’s musicality about all hell breaking lose but the speaker saying blatantly “heart break doesn’t come from loving me.” The guitar breakdown adds a nice musicality to the track.
My Rock and My Rain: This song boasts lyrics that are practically songwriter perfection. A perfect to dedicate to your upcoming valentine.
While I’m Waiting: This song could have stayed an instrumental for it’s suspenseful musicality through the use of a rain-stick and various other percussion instruments.
Looking Back: Perfect song to play at someone’s memorial, it’s a perfect combination of soft music, lyrics that are tears of memory, and soft vocals.
Everday I Love You More: A beautiful love song with nice percussive musicality
Would You Let Me In: The flute adds a great musicality to this song about falling in love with someone who is grieving.
Sara’s Lullaby: Taking on the sound of Spanish folk music, this is a both a pleasure to listen to and a little bit of a style change for the artist.
All I’ve Got: Vocally, Martin reminds me of Karen Carpenter a little bit on this track folky love song.
One Part Truth, The Party’s In Full Swing, Life is Good, and Praise The Morning all boast of Martin’s country style as a singer-songwriter, both lyrically and musically.
In The Blink of A Life
Rating: Four out of five cookies
Hailing from Rumson, New Jersey and at only 24 years old, Charlie Puth first caught our attention as the lead vocalist who croons the chorus of Wiz Kahlifa’s award winning song “See You Again” for Fast and Furious 7.
At the young age of two, Puth suffered a near fatal dog bite incident that damaged his right eyebrow. At age 12, he began his music career unofficially by participating in a jazz ensemble in Red Bank, NJ. Despite attending regular high school, from 7th to 12th grade, he attended Manhattan School of Music pre-college, majoring in jazz piano and minoring in classical music. From here, he went to college on a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music where he majored in music production and engineering. He graduated in 2013.
His music career sprung into action when Puth began a Youtube channel called Charlies Vlogs, where he released his first single, “These Are My Sexy Shades” in 2010. Charlie Puth was originally signed to Ellen Degenerees label, eleveneleven but left in 2013. In 2015, he signed with Atlantic Records. Prior to the release of his debut album, Nine Track Mind, he was a feature act on the 2015 Jingle Ball Tour.
Song by Song Review
“One Call Away”: A song he wrote with his best friends in L.A. it showcases Puth’s songwriting style as well his signature musical style of pure vocals across a piano track.
“Marvin Gaye”: The debut single off his album released with Atlantic Records, the track is all about the heat of passion between two people who just met, and features Puth’s friend and fellow pop artist, Meghan Trainor.
“Dangerously”: One of my favorites off the album, I relate to the message of the song and love the musicality of the track because it’s got a soul pop vibe. Puth himself tweeted that the part of the song where he sings, “knew we would crash at the speed that we were going” part took about 100 times to get right. You can’t even tell, Charlie. Either way, your voice sounds as smooth as spoonful of brownie cheesecake ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s.
“Losing My Mind”: I feel like this track should be my text notification since I am probably losing my mind 21 out of 24 hours a day. Puth explains the song as a track on an emotional day when he felt like he was the worst songwriter in the world and that he was losing his mind. Sounds like he fixed his writer’s block with this song.
“We Don’t Talk Anymore”: A great song that I can dedicate to my ex since things there ended entirely terribly. This is my favorite track on the album because I love the back and forth between Selena Gomez and him on this track as well as the overall musicality of the track.
“My Gospel”: Love the musicality of this track as well as the overall message of the song. Now if only I could get a guy who looks like Charlie Puth to sing this to me because he dedicates it to me. This song was co-written by Josh Kear, most known for writing the hit Carrie Underwood song “Before He Cheats.”
“Up All Night”: Puth’s vocals and jazz piano backtrack make this sound a lot like the sequel to “One Call Away.” He wrote this while doing head stands according to Puth’s Twitter page. This track is incredibly relatable for anyone who’s ever had a crush. Bravo, Charlie.
“Left Right Left”: Another piano ballad that talks about that moment when time has past and you finally start picking yourself up and moving on with your life after a breakup that you thought would destroy you for good. Ironically, Puth recorded this song on a hover board and he fell really hard during the recording session.
“Then There’s You”: Max Martin added his own personal touch to this track but this has the makings of being as popular as Bieber’s “One Less Lonely Girl” if it becomes a single. If not, I enjoy the pop musicality of the track and only hope I can get married one day to this song.
“Suffer”: This track reminds me of a Temptations song, and makes me feel as though I’ve transported back to the fifties with it’s malt milkshake diner vibe but Puth wrote this about a girl that was messing with his mind.
“As You Are”: Ok so I stand corrected. This is my absolute favorite track on the album. This track was co-written by Shy Carter Mayne. Also, Charlie if you ever want to have a shotgun wedding to someone you don’t really know, I’m only one call away 😉
“Some Type of Love”: The song that helped him get a record deal with Atlantic Records, this was written and recorded in his parent’s house. The perfect song to listen to on Valentine’s Day.
So far, Nine Track Mind has debuted at #6 on the Billboard Hot 200. Puth may be one call away but he’s definitely a someone you should watch out for. His music will have you losing your mind because it’s just that good.