Sony Music Australia / Wonderlick Entertainment
Release Date: April 30th 2021
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- The Wolves
- Everybody Rise
- Worst Day of My Life
- C’mon (feat. Travis Barker)
- All the Lies Around Me
- Miss You
- Love Songs Ain’t For Us (feat. Keith Urban)
- I’ll Be Yours
- You’ll Never Meet Anyone Like Me Again
- That Girl
- Lonely Still
- Baby Steps
- Amy Shark
Amy Shark has been one of Australia’s most accomplished and sought-out musicians over the past few years, and since she’s currently considered one of Australia’s most popular pop artists, and the fact that her album has been released since April 30th, I figured it’s only fitting for me to review Cry Forever, right? Amy’s brand of pop has been trending over the last 2-3 years or so- with the songs having a lyric-focus while still sounding folksy and singer-songwriter, but always trying to deliver songs that are catchy and compelling. Maybe it’s because this whole word of ‘pop’ has changed and is meaning something now totally different than before, that Amy’s music is even considered to be classified as pop in the first place; but that’s neither here nor there. What I have heard from the album is something unique and different, and while at times her vocals and the way she sings conjures up someone like Missy Higgins, Amy’s music sounds a lot more hauntingly emotive compared to Missy’s- her songs are much bouncier and jovial on the surface, even though they do touch on some heavy topics. Amy’s on the other hand tends to wear her heart on her sleeve more often- there’s more songs on Cry Forever that are indeed slower and much more introspective, and that’s ok. In such a climate of today, you do need songs that reflect that mellow and inwardly looking feeling we have gravitated towards for a while now.
But as much as I can appreciate Amy for all her music is worth, I found Cry Forever to be too reflective, too heartfelt, if ever there is such an assessment. The songs individually on the album are good, but when it’s all strung together in a set list of songs, you get a feeling that there should’ve been a few more upbeat songs on there to lighten the mood a bit. Nothing against Amy’s songwriting as a whole, it’s just that the album experience would’ve been bolstered with a few songs to remind us all, that life ought not to be reflective and contemplative all the time. Yes, there’s songs upbeat like ‘Everybody Rise’, ‘The Wolves’, ‘That Girl’ and ‘C’mon’, but maybe I expected more? Whatever the case, I went into Cry Forever with a whole lot of expectations, considering that it was considered one of Australia’s most anticipated albums for the year thus far (aside from Delta Goodrem’s Bridge Over Troubled Dreams, which I rated 5/5!). What I did experience though was good; but left me wanting more jovialness when the album was over. You can be in your feelings every once in a while, but Cry Forever was so much so, that at the end of it, my spirits weren’t as lifted as much as they were when I listened to other Australian artists previously, like Guy Sebastian, John Farnham, Delta Goodrem, Missy Higgins and Natalie Imbruglia. Maybe it’s a sign of the times of the way Aussie music is going and I’m just scratching my head wondering if I got the memo. Regardless, Cry Forever is good, but don’t expect to be dancing around the house or bopping your head to songs like this. This album requires attention, the deep-thinking and undivided kind, as you sit through quite possibly one of the most emotionally charged albums (mainstream or CCM) of 2021 to date!
Let me just say from the outset, that I don’t think I’m in any way qualified to review Cry Forever– there are other better reviewers and professional writers that are much more eloquent than me, writing about Amy’s new album, and so what I’ll do is highlight a few of the songs that stood out when I was hearing Cry Forever from start to finish not too long ago. First song on the album, ‘The Wolves’ starts off with a powerful eerie synthesizer as Amy presents this hauntingly empathetic song about trying to live through a time where the metaphorical ‘wolves’ are out, trying to make our own lives harder, as we’re left wondering where our friends are that have deserted us in our times of need. Initially I felt like ‘The Wolves’ was Amy singing to a jilted lover, wondering why they have left her, but as I’ve delved in deeper, I realise that ‘The Wolves’ isn’t necessarily directed at the person who has left her in the predicament she’s in, but rather, addressed to the person who probably swore to her, that they’d stay and support her during difficulties and trials, but then bolted at the first sign of difficulty. You know the person who is your friend, until you’re in a sticky situation, and they’re nowhere to be found? I guess that’s the target audience for the song ‘The Wolves’- a reminder that friends can be flaky sometimes, and to not be necessarily surprised if they don’t decide to stick around, supporting us while we’re hurting. ‘Everybody Rise’, the first single from Cry Forever follows, and tries to tackle this topic of unrequited love, from a sense and framework as someone on the outer, hero-worshiping and idolising the person they look up to, and wondering what it’s like to hang around this person and be with this person (not necessarily in a romantic way)…borderline stalkerish, but ‘Everybody Rise’ speaks about people’s desire to want to be known by people who are famous, wanting to have a slice of attention themselves. They like the idea of the person; and like to have a certain image. Can it be borderline fanatical? Of course! Can it be creepy for someone to fan over someone else in a ‘unrequited love’ way? Most definitely. And ‘Everybody Rise’ offers us this insight into the mind of someone who just can’t let someone go.
Throughout the rest of the album, we see Amy deliver some hard-hitting emotive themes as we dwell upon these vulnerable and poignant melodies that have the potential to challenge us in our own behaviours in the upcoming weeks ahead. ‘Worst Day of My Life’ presents the track acoustically with light electric guitars, hand claps, and percussion, as Amy tackles love in a unique, fun-filled way, carrying on from whence ‘Everybody Rise’ left off. It’s when you are trying to express to someone that you’re into them, yet the only way you believe you can do it, is if you go big and over the top (arrive at their house, expres ‘love’ in a grandiose way) so that they notice you the way that you’ve noticed them; while ‘C’mon’, a powerful, motivating ballad featuring blink-182 guitarist Travis Barker collaborating with Amy on it, is about the daily grind of circumstances and situations you are currently in, and wanting someone to be there right by your side, cheering you on as you keep pushing toward your goal, no matter how long it can take. ‘All the Lies About Me’ strips down the instruments till all that it is, is Amy’s voice and light acoustic guitars. The song itself speaks about the darkness of fame, and how when you place yourself out there in any capacity (on youtube, apple, spotify, Instagram, tik-tok etc), there’s bound to be negative comments, and whether or not they’re true or not is beside the point. You start to believe what people say about you, because…well, people behind a screen saying something about you can be very convincing in the moment, right? You start to assume they know more about you than you do, and ‘All the Lies About Me’ depicts this struggle that anyone who is a creative can relate to- that once your content is available for someone else to see, they’ll always have an opinion- about anything, even about you.
‘Miss You’ can be a little too sensual for it’s own good, but the sentiment of the song stil stands- that even if you’ve moved on to be in a relationship with someone else, you can still have fond memories about a previous relationship, replaying in your head about the good times you’ve had with this person, and not discounting it as all bad; while ‘I’ll Be Yours’ is a song of devotion to a significant other, as Amy states that ‘…I may not live for forever, but the time I spend here, I’ll be yours…’, a way of declaring love to someone regardless of difficult and trying times. Amy’s duet with country singer Keith Urban on ‘Love Songs Ain’t For Us’ is a great fusion between acoustic pop and country, in a song that has actually become for me, one of the brightest spots on Cry Forever as a whole. The song itself speaks about love between two people that has come to a point where it’s organic, and that ‘love songs’ aren’t really needed for the relationship to ‘kickstart’, rather, when love runs deep and is engrained in a couple, and goes beyond lust, butterflies and infatuation, it becomes more than just a description of something, but rather, love in its proper and purest form, is a verb- it’s a doing thing. Amy reminds us that as good as love songs are, they ought not be for the people who want something much more real than the sappiness and superficial things that ‘love songs’ seem to promote.
‘You’ll Never Meet Anyone Like Me Again’ is Amy’s attempt at trying to reconnect with people and longing to be the one that people come to for advice and information, for the sake of Amy herself feeling as though she is loved and accepted because these people entrusted her with such things about themselves (rather than wanting to connect with people because it’s the right thing to do, and that we as people were not made and created to live in isolation); while ‘That Girl’ is a hard-hitting song about a persona who places every single blame upon the new girl in a relationship that ‘broke up’ the relationship the persona was in, when in fact in any relationship breakdown (and subsequent reforming later on, or people moving on to different relationships), there are indeed two to tango. As Amy herself depicts it, ‘…I got really badly cheated on once, and I just hated her so much. My friends would be like, ‘It takes two to tango, Amy,’ but I was like, ‘No, he was tricked.’ You look back now and it’s like ‘Amy, you were just so obsessed with hating this girl that you didn’t even realize how much of an a**hole that guy was. You’re so blinded, you’re just seeing one side.’…’ ‘Lonely Girl’ brings the acoustic atmosphere and vibe back into front-and-centre, as Amy delivers this autobiographical song about being lonely, and how you can amass all these things, and be in a seemingly ‘perfect’ relationship, but still feel alone, and feel as if something is crippling you, no matter how pristine the picture can seem on the outside to everyone else. ‘Baby Steps’ depicts a time in Amy’s life when she was broken and feeling as though she was never getting anywhere- and the song is Amy’s way of trying to show everyone that she’s moving forward, one baby step at a time, with her life, as she tries to turn things around; while the last song ‘Amy Shark’ (kinda odd for a song to be named after yourself) is an autobiographical track about Amy grabbing her opportunities to venture into music, and pressing through struggles and obstacles along the way. As Amy herself has said, ‘…if there’s any song that describes a real, current feeling that I’m living right now, it’s this. That’s why I called it ‘Amy Shark,’ which I know it sounded weird and probably confused a lot of people, but it’s just such a personal song. The journey to get here has almost killed me. It almost killed mine and Shane’s marriage. I needed help when I was struggling, I needed guidance, love, and support, and I didn’t get it then. Now, I’m stronger, I’m working, I’m busy. No one will ever understand the sacrifices, the things I’ve missed. A lot of the time I’m just a typical self-deprecating Australian, but here I just f***ing went for it. I really have worked so hard to get to where I am right now. It hasn’t all been fun, but let’s enjoy this bit…’
At the beginning of the review, I said that Cry Forever was too introspective, and that after listening to the album, I felt a little wanting, as I’m reminded that reflective music can only take over an album so much; before the whole album experience feels too much ‘in your feelings’ than it should. Maybe that was Amy’s experience over the last few years, and I’m not knocking that. It’s just that maybe I was expecting something to come out of Cry Forever when it wasn’t the case. Does it mean that I didn’t love the album? No, I did. It’s just that other albums like Guy Sebastian’s T.R.U.T.H. and Delta Goodrem’s Bridge Over Troubled Dreams felt much more complete and much more well-rounded compared to this album from Amy. But who am I to say? Check out the album once, and maybe, there’re a few songs that can stand out to you- songs like ‘Love Songs Ain’t For Us’, ‘C’mon’ and ‘Everybody Rise’, to name a few. All in all, an album that gives us all permission to be able to explore our own feelings, and to delve deep into ourselves just like Amy has in her album, but if you were to boil it all down to it, Cry Forever is more about lamenting, reflecting, contemplating, and reminiscing, and nothing much about being excited about future prospects and opportunities. I know there’s always a time a place for anything, but too much of the emotive content this album delivers, is what I believe could hinder the lasting effect of Cry Forever in the long run. Well done, Amy nonetheless, for an album that allows us to reflect upon our lives thus far, especially now during times of uncertainty. Hope this album can speak and encourage to more people in the upcoming months, and maybe, just maybe, God can use an uber-reflective album like Cry Forever, for His glory and our physical, mental, and spiritual good!
3 songs to listen to: C’mon, Love Songs Ain’t For Us, Everybody Rise
RIYL: Delta Goodrem, Missy Higgins, Keith Urban, Tina Arena, Jessica Mauboy, Guy Sebastian