Release Date: October 2nd 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- All Love Everything
- My Way
- Wherever You Go
- Nothing Left But You
- Glory Days
- I Do
- Hold On Tight
Time and time again on this website, I have mentioned that I grew up listening to Christian music, and have been inspired and encouraged many, many times through me immersing myself with music that glorifies Jesus, and music that points people to the Good News. I’ve also mentioned that even now, Christian music speaks to me and resonates with me on a higher level than any other type of music. Yet as I have immersed myself constantly with ‘Christian’ music this past year during quarantine and lockdown- I’ve come to realise that God uses all types of music to draw people closer to Him. It’s a fact that I am forever reconciling with; and one of the main reasons why I am not afraid to branch out onto other musical genres outside of Christian contemporary music (CCM). I don’t know if this is intentional, but over the past year I’ve found myself listening to a wider range of music- I’ve dived deep into pop and country and as a site, we have reviewed a number of ‘non-Christian’ albums on the site this year- and you can take a read here. And though I will always find myself drawn back to Christian music- as a kind of default standing; another album that has stood out to me amongst all others recently is the gospel/r&b inspired All Love Everything from Aloe Blacc. Aloe dropped his album a few weeks ago, and as soon as I heard the first single “My Way”, I was hooked. And as I’m sure you have all never heard of Aloe before (as did I, aside from “Wake Me Up” with Avicii); I reckon All Love Everything is the perfect album to listen to as an introduction to one of the most underrated yet inspiring artists of this generation!
In the years leading up to the album, I did a lot of songwriting and a lot of traveling. I had different album concepts for this new album over the past five years. But in the end, I decided to compile the songs that focused on family, and my personal relationships, in order to create this body of work. So each song was written individually, but not with a particularly album theme in mind, until I decided on the album theme. Then I put together the songs that made the most sense, which was the theme of family.
As a father, I decided that this is a great time to start sharing more about who I am. It’s hard as an artist to keep a mystique in this day and age, because social media makes everything so present to our fans. And you can’t deny some of the aspects of your life that are just available to everybody. In the past, an artist like Michael Jackson had kids, but he was also still a huge pop star. No one ever thought of him as a father; they just thought of him as Michael Jackson. I think that keeping up a front of just being a pop star is a relic of the past. I want to be relevant and of the time, which is to share my humanity in total, and not hide any parts of who I am because of industry impression. So I wanted to share that on this album, and the song “Family” is one where I talk about my experience with my parents and then my experience with my kid, and some of my experiences with my wife. I put that song at the top of the album, so that I can set the tone, to say this is what the album is about, and this why it’s called All Love Everything. My family is part of all the things that I love.
Unlike many mainstream artists and songs today, which speak about having a good time, sowing your wild oats, and just living in the moment with no care for the future; there is weight and lyrical substance within Aloe’s 10 melodies, with each track reminding us about different aspects of the human condition, and different ways we as people can make the world a better place. Album opener “Family” is a acoustic guitar driven mid-tempo ballad, and extremely catchy and danceable; whereby Aloe lyrically delivers a stellar song right out of the gate, as he emphatically sings praises about his family, and everything that they mean to him, as ‘… I know it’s a long road but all I need is right here next to me, my family…’. The concept of the importance of family continues in the 2 and a half minute title track, as Aloe praises his wife for her support and dedication to him; while heartfelt, inspirational piano ballad “My Way” is one of the most inspirational tracks that I have heard this year. As Aloe fervently relays to us that determination and resolve and grit will grant him happiness and success; we are reminded that in order to be successful and to be satisfied and to be happy, we must put in the work and the hard yards and the effort in everything we do- we need to do it our way or else we won’t be really living at all.
Emotional and honest piano ballad “Wherever You Go” is similar in style and theme to Jess Glynne’s “I’ll Be There”, and recounts that everyone who is hurting and everyone who is struggling, will have someone there in their corner to support them and advocate for them. With the song also doubling up as a melody God could sing to us; this inspiring happy-go-lucky tune is one of my favourites on All Love Everything. “Nothing Left But You”, a slower-tempo keys driven melody, delves into the notion of laying down our masks and always showing the real us in every situation, regardless of how messy that really is; that the real point of living is when we can be honest, vulnerable and authentic with the important people that matter.
Whereas “Glory Days”, one of the more upbeat melodies on the project, delves into the ever-true notion of our best days actually being ahead of us rather than behind of us; and “I Do” has Aloe writing and singing a love song- his version of John Legend’s “All Of Me”- in essence his ode and his song of gratitude and thanks to his wife for making him into the man that he is today. The piano led gospel/blues melody “Corner” is probably one of the most radio friendly songs on the album. Together with “Wherever You Go” and “My Way”, this melody is part of the backbone of the album lyrically, as Aloe earnestly relays to us all that ‘…wherever you go, and whether you’re high or low, I’ll be there for you, I’m in your corner, if you’re far from home, and baby, you find that you’re on your own, I’ll be there for you, I’m in your corner…’.
We are also met with another inspirational song in “Hold On Tight”- a quasi-spiritual tune potentially sung from the point of view of Jesus, and again encouraging us all to keep on fighting the good fight- to keep remembering to put one foot in front of the other and hold on tight to loved ones around us in order to feel in control and all-together. All Love Everything then ends with the introspective and reflective piano led ballad “Harvard”, as Aloe lets us know that even if some of us haven’t been to Harvard, and don’t have much of a tertiary education, that doesn’t mean that we’re useless in life- but rather that we have our unique skill set that we’re good at, yet the song also iterates that we can dream big despite our circumstances. Because you never actually know what’s around the corner, and it may be something very wonderful.
I get inspiration from films a lot. Watching a great film or hearing a great line from a movie can inspire an entire song. I have favorite movies in different genres, but The Shawshank Redemption and Gattaca would be some favorites.
Fashion also inspires me to. I started making prototypes at home. I started getting a manufacturer to help create them. I am slow when it comes to working around things that are not my forte. I am always looking for the best person to work with. I am glad I did not create a whole clothing business before COVID. When it comes to merch, it’s been other folks designing it. But in the future, I think it is going to be way more than a fashion brand than just merch. I am looking forward to it for sure.
My album was already finished when the pandemic shut the world down. I was lucky enough to have all my parts done, and the only thing we needed to do was mix and master. I think the one issue was whether or not I should release the album during the quarantine. But I thought this was the perfect time to release an album about family, where right now togetherness and community is really important. And I’m hoping that the songs on the album can become music and messages and lyrics, that people can find themselves within the stories, and find their story within my story.
To tell you the truth, I don’t think that I would have taken the plunge and listen to Aloe Blacc’s music has it not been for COVID-19 and me being in lockdown and deciding actively to listen to different types and styles of music to tell you the truth I don’t think that I’d have the guts to listen to anything outside of Christian music had it not been for my brother’s and my blog series about influential artists. Yet here we are in 2020, and here I am listening to All Love Everything, one of the most underrated albums of the year, yet one that is still solid. If you love r&b and gospel, and inspirational tunes that lift you up; then Aloe Blacc will be right up your alley. And even if you do not like those genres- I’d encourage you all to take a listen to All Love Everything anyway. You might be surprised at how many songs resonate with you. Well done Aloe, I can’t wait to hear what’s next from you!
3 songs to listen to: My Way, Wherever You Go, Corner
RIYL: Owl City, Pharell Williams, John Legend, Kirk Franklin, Jess Glynne