Dogtree / Alternative Distribution Alliance
Release Date: September 17th 2021
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- World on Fire
- Heavy is the Crown
- Changes are Coming
- Dearly Beloved
- Cry For Help
- The Victim
- Call You Mine
- Break Into My Heart
It’s been almost two years since I’ve listened to much of anything by Daughtry. Since writing a blog pertaining to the impact and influence about this underrated band, in late 2019; I’ve been listening to a fair amount of other music from other artists who are equally as emotive, passionate, enthusiastic and poignant, and while I’ve thoroughly appreciated the craft of Daughtry (and it’s lead singer Chris Daughtry) for quite some time, it’s been literally impossible (if you’d consider the frequency of blogging within the years of 2019, 2020 and now 2021) to just listen to Daughtry, just because…until now that is. I’ve always admired Daughtry the band (and Chris Daughtry the lead singer) for the honesty and transparency expressed in their music, and while Chris himself didn’t win the American Idol season he was participating in (he came fourth in a season of American Idol where musicians and stars like Katharine McPhee-Foster, Mandisa and Kellie Pickler were borne out of), Daughtry the band was a force to be reckoned with, in the immediate years post-Idol. Daughty has made their mark on music in general over the last decade and a half, or so; and while they’re still not very as known or even as popular as other mainstays like OneRepublic, Coldplay, Switchfoot and Evanescence; Daughtry exploded onto the music scene with their eponymous band way back in 2006. Fast-forward to just a few years ago in 2019, and according to statistics, they sit as high as no. 3 on the list of most successful artists post Idol (#1 and #2 are occupied by none other than Carrie and Kelly respectively!), all the while delivering songs of importance as the band themselves have changed what it means to create great rock music with a solid message and an inspirational edge. Daughtry have, I reckon, shown us a great example of what it means to thrive in the rock industry that isn’t all about inspiration or even anything to do with a wholehearted message at this point. Which is a shame. Nevertheless, Chris Daughtry and co. have decided to make good music as well as impart values upon society, that we all need to strive and live by. Chris has given to us a band that is truly underrated, and one that makes me smile anytime I listen to them.
To be candid and perfectly honest, I reckon everyone thought that Daughtry was going to win the American Idol season he was performing on…and so when he was booted off in 4th place, it came as a shock- the judges loved him, the audience both in the live studio plus at home, also loved him. And so, his shock exit on the competition show was a little unexpected…nevertheless, what transpired afterward was nothing short of a miracle (or a que sera sera moment or a ‘meant to be’, whatever you want to call it). Daughtry, despite the earlier exit on American Idol, still went on to deliver great songs and albums- and to this date, Daughtry’s self-titled 2006 album remains to be their best-selling album, and one of the best-selling rock albums of the 2010s decadal era. With songs like ‘Home’, ‘It’s Not Over’, ‘What About Now’, ‘What I Want’ and ‘Over You’, Daughtry’s first has a sentimental sheen over it, in fact, dare I say that ‘Home’, as popular now than ever, is arguably not only one of Daughtry’s most meaningful, but also one of the decade’s most meaningful as well?
Fast-forward to 2021, and Daughtry are off their label and are now creating music independently. They just released their brand-new album Dearly Beloved just this last week, and it is in this recent album release that I’ve recently discovered just how important, underrated, and emotive this band really is. Chris has created a space and place for vulnerability to take centre-stage, and this is no different in Dearly Beloved, arguably one of their most honest albums they’ve created in their whole career thus far. With Daughtry’s last album Cage to Rattle being released in 2018, Chris and co. have steadily released songs within the last few years- most of which are on this current album Dearly Beloved, now. ‘Heavy is the Crown’, ‘World on Fire’ and ‘Lioness’ are the three pre-release tracks Daughtry have released prior to Dearly Beloved, and while it would’ve been a nice touch to see Daughtry’s cover of the popular Sia track ‘Alive’ on the band’s new album as well, it is good nonetheless to see Daughtry deliver covers to the same exquisite passion as they have delivered in plenty of their other covers before- namely tracks like ‘Bring Me To Life’ (Evanescence), and ‘In the Air Tonight’ (Phil Collins).
‘World on Fire’ is the first song Daughtry created in the year of 2020, and it was seeing the world through the lens of COVID-19 that really prompted Chris and co. to create this emotive and powerful song that probably wouldn’t have been made, if all these things in society, culture, and the world, weren’t happening. With the song being ever timely in a world and society where things were on edge because of the pandemic, ‘World On Fire’ is a song that can hopefully relate to someone, because we’ve all, to put it bluntly, have had a pretty bad 2020 (and to say things in a more honest way- 2021 isn’t much better!). The band’s music over the years has generally hit hard and delved deep into current issues- and yet ‘World On Fire’ feels like one of the band’s most compelling tracks of late. Maybe this song means more to us because of the world that we are living in, but regardless of the circumstances surrounding the making of this song, the song itself is one that allows us to reflect upon our own lives thus far, especially during a moment in time where all we can do is just stay in our houses and reflect. It’s a song that I’m sure feels more and more relatable to people as times continues to travel along- because even though this song takes direct ‘inspiration’ from the start of COVID-19 (way back in March 2020) alongside the Australian bushfires of 2019/20, maybe even the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd back in May 2020; ‘World On Fire’ still feels cultuerally relevant right now in 2021, with the song possibly reminding people of other pivotal moments throughout 2020 and into 2021- like the U.S. election, the Delta variant of COVID-19, even the current turmoil in Afghanistan, can be things people can think about when hearing ‘World on Fire’ for themselves. As Chris himself divulges about the origins of the track, ‘…at the time, Australia was burning, and everything we looked at on the news or Instagram, was just negative, negative, negative, and we were just like, ‘Man, the world’s on fire’. We just went for it, and it felt real and dark, and it felt like something that we were all experiencing, even then. And then the pandemic hits, and we were all like, ‘How did we do this?’ This was all before George Floyd; there was no shortage of police brutality or racial injustice even then, so a lot of that made it into the lyrics…I have full creative control right now [as an independent band], and I’m making the record that I’ve wanted to make for years. I’m not really thinking about, “Is this gonna make it on the radio?” Or, “Is this gonna be a cross-over?” I don’t give a s*** anymore…for me, ‘World on Fire’ represents a hard look at what’s going on around us. The world is not at a lack of issues for us to deal with. I hope this song inspires people to be aware and treat each other better, eradicate division and hate by spreading kindness. I think that’s the most important thing we can do as a species…’ It is in this bunch of quotes just aforementioned, that I’ve seen not only ‘World on Fire’, but the whole album of Dearly Beloved in a new light, as this album comes from a place of hurt, pain, frustration, but also from a place of hope and longing for things to be better than what we see right now in the world. Well done Chris, for this poignant song ‘World On Fire’, and for an album that can hopefully reach us in the vulnerable places of our lives as we seek healing from a tumultuous 2020 that was.
Throughout the rest of the album, we see the band create songs that can not only succeed at radio level, but also pierce our souls and offer to us, little nuggets of wisdom, and moments of hope, as we use this album maybe, as a soundtrack to our lives at the moment. ‘Heavy is the Crown’ is Daughtry’s follow-up song after the success of ‘World on Fire’; and is a track that has been debated by many as to what the real meaning of the track is. On the surface we see the persona (perhaps Chris himself) reaching a fork in the road, realising, and understanding the fact that as someone who is famous, he’s feeling as though he could be craving the attention of public opinion all too much, thereby, deciding to even slow down and not always seek and find adulation and applause in the public (who is indeed fickle minded anyway) as much. ‘Heavy is the Crown’ reminds us of how pressurising it can be for someone in the spotlight all the time, and the metaphorical crown that people wear, to symbolise a certain elevation of fame, can often come with a price of reduced freedoms and a lack of privacy. A song that is very much relatable to the band’s own experience (and how they moved from being signed to a label all this time, to now releasing Dearly Beloved without it); ‘Heavy is the Crown’ shows us what it can look like for someone who is metaphorically labelled a ‘superstar’, to feel as though their wellbeing is taking a back-seat because of fame.
Daughtry continues to give to us thoughtful songs we can all reflect upon, as Dearly Beloved fastly becomes one of 2021’s most thought-provoking albums of the year thus far. ‘Desperation’, track #1 on the album, starts off the album in such an anthemic fashion, as we see Daughtry speak about how we at the end of our rope can be so desperate and in need of hope. It is in that desperation; we are called to hold onto the love that we have and that we’ve been given in our lives. ‘Changes are Coming’ is a motivational song to be declared upon the people who need it- specifically those suffering from mental health illnesses, and how this rock anthem can be a motivation for them to believe the fact that changes are going to come, while ‘Dearly Beloved’ the title track, is a desperate plea to save a relationship that seems to be beyond breaking point. The persona in the track longs for the relationship to be as it once was; and realises that even if that wasn’t to be the case, relationships that go through difficulties and trials, and come out the other side, are oftentimes, better for it. ‘Cry for Help’ is perhaps one of the most vulnerable songs Chris and co. have created in recent Daughtry history (maybe next to ‘As You Are’), as we see a vulnerability that comes with admitting that you’re not ok, that you do need help. Crying for help doesn’t mean that you are weak, it means that you know you can’t do things on your own- when your pride gets out of the way and you understand that more people around you would help if they knew what you may be going through.
‘Asylum’ is a powerful rock anthem that speaks about how ‘the lunatics are taking the asylum’, and while we may have an inkling that this song is speaking about how people’s mental health can often take a toll, especially during lockdown periods throughout COVID-19; the song itself is never really clear about the topic of the track. Nevertheless, ‘Asylum’ reminds us all, that we all have demons in our own lives, and we need to take care of ourselves and each other, especially during a fragile time as this. ‘Evil’ speaks about how people would often do anything they can, for this notion and feeling called ‘love’, even to the point where they may betray their own morals and ethics, just so that they can be with this person and feel this feeling (even if it is just superficial and nothing other than skin deep); while ‘The Victim’ paints a despondant picture of a relationship in tatters- the persona feels as though they don’t want to be painted solely as the victim in the situation, while also acknowledging that the other person in said relationship shouldn’t get off scott free too. ‘The Victim’ allows us all to see that there are two sides to every story, and that unfortunately, you may only see the true side of the person that you’re with, when it’s too late.
‘Somebody’ slows down the tempo a bit with the introduction of keyboards and a light percussion undertone, as Daughtry presents this truth, that everyone needs someone to love, that we were never meant to do this thing called life, alone; whilst songs like ‘Call You Mine’ and ‘Lioness’ touches on issues like regret and longing for a better life with someone that could’ve slipped through your fingers (‘Call You Mine’), and being wary about people who go into relationships and treat them like conquests and things to acquire, rather than people to relate to (‘Lioness’); respectively. The album is then rounded out by ‘Break Into My Heart’, a song where the persona is feeling as though he’s living a mundane life, so much so that he wants to feel something, anything, even pain…so that he can feel alive, I guess? This album-ender is all too real and sad, and can be in fact, a reality for people who seem to have ‘fallen’ into the life they are leading. A song that I’m sure can be relatable for a lot of people, ‘Break Into My Heart’ reminds us all to reach out for positive help, not just anything that comes our way. Yes, pain is often something that God can use to refine our character and build us up, but that doesn’t mean that we ought to go seeking for it.
So that is it…Dearly Beloved. Here we are in 2021, and Daughtry’s six albums have spanned 15 years. Nevertheless, regardless of the amount of albums within the time frame (other artists may have close to 10 albums within a time frame of 15 years), the quality of the songs are impactful, emotive and heartfelt, as a lot of the songs act as beacons of hope and places of comfort as Chris and co. deliver melodies where we realise that it is ok to be vulnerable but also deliver a song that is as rock as it is uniquely ‘Daughtry’ and no one else. For the band to come from their self-titled debut to now, all the while still operating at 3rd behind Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson as the most successful American Idol alum post-Idol, is nothing short of miraculous- and it is. Daughtry has shown us what good quality rock-n-roll music is, and a reminder that vulnerability through music isn’t considered a weakness or even a hindrance, but rather a strength as we see the relatability through the music, in such a way that we can connect on a deeper level to said artist throughout their discography. Songs like ‘World on Fire’, ‘Dearly Beloved’ and ‘Somebody’ are songs that stood out for me from this new album by Daughtry, and while for me their album Baptized (in 2013) will always be one of my own favourites (closely followed by Daughtry’s own debut project), this new album is a very, very close third. An album that has been a nice out-of-left-field album in this year thus far, Chris and co. ought to be commended for such a job well done, especially their first album (hopefully of many) recorded and released without a label. Well done Daughtry for this new album, looking forward to see which songs become official radio singles as the months progress.
3 songs to listen to: World on Fire, Dearly Beloved, Somebody
RIYL: Goo Goo Dolls, Lifehouse, Nickelback, Linkin Park, Evanescance, Matchbox Twenty, Thousand Foot Krutch