Wednesday, March 3, 2021

‘Free Spirit’ delivers honesty

The R&B/pop combo sound of singer-songwriter Khalid has blasted through speakers on long road trips and in the comfort of small dorm rooms. 

There is an intimate feeling to the singer’s music that makes it relatable to anyone who is a millennial or generation-Zer.  

Khalid’s breakout track “Location” was released in the summer of 2016 and since then the singer’s music has been a part of the soundtrack of most young people in America’s lives.  

His debut project, “American Teen,” introduced the world to the singer, a poppy, upbeat military kid who had bounced from state to state during his younger years before settling in El Paso, Texas, a city he frequently expresses his love for. 

Furthermore, his hit song “Love Lies” with singer Normani appeared on the soundtrack for the film “Love, Simon” and he lended vocals for the hit song “Eastside” alongside singer Halsey and producer Benny Blanco. 

On April 5, Khalid released his much-anticipated sophomore project “Free Spirit,” an album of 17 songs that echoes the classic Khalid sound while the lyrics tell a story of new emotional depth. 

On the first track, “Intro,” the sonic sounds and Khalid’s signature baritenor voice come through clearly. 

There is no new radical sound to brace for. 

This Khalid is familiar and a clear connection is established between his debut album and his sophomore release. 

Every theme touched on in a Khalid song reflects the lives of young people across the country who are struggling with identity and the burdens of love. 

As the album progresses, tracks like “Bad Luck,” “Talk” and “Outta My Head” explore the signature emotional nature of Khalid’s lyrics. It’s in his wheelhouse to be singing about love and these songs show that to be true. 

“Bad Luck” tells a story of relationships ruined, “Talk” explores the need for communication in a relationship and “Outta My Head” dives into the rambling thoughts of someone in love. 

The sound of “Location” appeared happy-go-lucky in nature and accurately portrayed the optimism of the age of 18. 

The emotions and feelings of the beginning of adulthood and the idea of freedom were all openly expressed on his previous project. The tone has changed on “Free Spirit.”

The lyrics this time are dealing with more heightened emotions about identity, mental health and maturity. 

Now 21, Khalid has seen and dealt with more in his burgeoning pop career. 

He’s no longer naive to it all. The track “Hundred” takes the listener into all the gears moving in his head. 

He sings: “Life is never easy when you need it to be, try to knock me down, but I get back on my feet, everybody’s angry and they’re coming for me, but I can’t give them energy that I won’t receive, so I brush ‘em off, I got a lot on my sleeve, like I’m moving backwards, but it’s all on repeat, this place is getting crowded, I got no room to breathe.” 

In other words, Khalid is getting real about all the dark, dirty things that cloud our minds. 

He’s being honest, and he’s putting it all on the table. 

The poetic transparency of this record makes it a must-hear for all. 

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