Release Date: July 17th 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Start (feat. serpentwithfeet)
- How Deep Is Too Deep
- Love I’m Given
- New Heights
- Ode To Myself
- Wine Drunk
- Brightest Blue
- Worry About Me (feat. blackbear)
- Slow Grenade (feat. Lauv)
- Close To Me (feat. Diplo and Swae Lee)
- Hate Me (feat. Juice WRLD)
It’s amazing at how God speaks to you when you are quiet. When there is no noise and no distractions. 2020 basically had no distractions… as we all were at home trying to beat the pandemic (currently to no avail!)… and when we’re alone with our thoughts, I guess that’s when we can hear God much more clearer. For me personally, I’ve been branching out and listening to all types of music (for Jon’s and my blog series about influential artists!)… and one such album I’ve been listening to lately, and find myself revisiting, and being impacted by, is Ellie Goulding’s Brightest Blue. Now I myself don’t know much about Ellie’s music (aside from a few singles here and there, like “Love Me Like You Do”, “Burn”, and “Still Falling For You” to name a few!), however our on-the-whim inclusion of her on Jon’s blog series of influential artists of all time list; meant that I decided to take the plunge one day and listen to her music- starting with the latest effort Brightest Blue. The result is an EDM and dance and inspirational experience unlike any other, and truly one of the most shining lights of 2020. Not a fan of Ellie though? I’m certain that 19 tracks of dance/pop goodness will convince you of Ellie’s brilliance and her ability to speaks works of comfort and wisdom to each one of us when we need it!
I think it’s just been a journey of figuring out who I am really. I spent the last however many years touring and I think I put my discovery on hold. I discovered more about myself as a performer, but not necessarily as a person. I’ve realized how much I’ve changed over the years, physically and mentally. I tried to unravel that. There’s a couple of songs where I’m still talking about finding that perfect person and being disillusioned by love — that’s still my favorite kind of writing. I love writing about heartbreak; any kind of injustice that happens in love and between two people is always interesting to me. All these songs were part of this discovery of myself, learning to love myself a bit more, respect myself and not need anyone else. I think that was really important to me.
I get to play this super confident girl who leaves parties because she doesn’t like anyone, and deals with egotistical guys who think they’re the one. It’s just fun. It’s a very different side of me, but one that I wanted to include because it shows that that’s still a big part of who I am…I want my music to be hopeful. I want to help people through my music. It’s incredible knowing that you could be that needed support for someone.
Immediately off the bat, Ellie goes deep lyrically, as “Start” opens proceedings with rapper serpantwithfeet. With “Start” being a chilled piano led spoken word type of track that delves into the concept of forgiveness and starting again after an horrific incident; in the song, the persona sings to a lover or family member or friend, calling them out on their faults, and also declaring that they themselves can start again after what has occurred. It’s a bleak song that gives no hope or resolution to the person being accused of wrongdoing, yet is also a necessary song that asks us the question of treating people with dignity and respect, and how far that will get you in life. “Power” takes the concept further, with the power-pop song dealing with superficial love and people in relationships for the wrong reasons- with the stark reminder of us checking our motivations and our hearts on display for all to see and hear.
It’s true that a chunk of Brightest Blue is about relationships (both healthy and unhealthy)… but for us single folk, there’s still gold to be mined in the lyrics and still infectious poppy melodic tunes to move our heads to. “How Deep Is Too Deep” speaks about a toxic relationship, as the poppy dance number has Ellie asking her ‘lover’ why he says that the relationship is too deep, and then questioning to us all ‘how deep is too deep?’, reminding us all that we need to commit to something in life, or not at all; while “Cyan” is a captivating spoken word intro to “Love I’m Given”. One of the strongest tracks on Brightest Blue, “Love I’m Given” asks the question of unconditional love from another as well as atonement- asking the question of whether we feel worthy of love. And as Ellie eloquently relays ‘…maybe I’m paying for the things I’ve done, and maybe I’m paying for the ones I’ve hurt, but I feel a change in the love I’m given, I’m turning the page on my indecision, and maybe you’ll stay if I overcome, the highs and the lows and the rising sun, but I feel a change in the love I’m given, I’m turning the page now, am I forgiven?…’, we are met with an identity and worldview crisis, and a desire to know about whether we are truly loveable. No answer is given here… but Ellie’s honesty reminds us that many of us are all searching for meaning and purpose, searching for God but not really knowing it. Thus let us remember that with a song like “Love I’m Given”, God can draw us into His presence and into His peace that surpasses all understanding.
“New Heights”, a slow-burn laid back keys led ballad, takes a leaf out of “Love I’m Given”, and reminds us that we don’t need anyone for us to love ourselves and accept ourselves, while the earnest and vulnerable piano led “Ode To Myself” delves into the lengths we would go to please another person or even ourselves, even going so far to kill ‘…for you, oh, ’cause I did it for you, it was always for you, was killing for you, swapped places with you, did it for you, it was always for you, was killing for you…’. “Woman”, a self-empowerment piano led ballad, and a personal album highlight, delves into the concept of being proud of being who you are, and not apologising for being unashamedly you; while party dance anthem “Tides” speaks about the need for human connection at its most basest and purest form- and is sung against the musical backdrop of a pure EDM track. “Wine Drunk” is a 50 second piece of honesty wrapped up in electronic vocals, as Ellie sings to her loved ones, recounting that they know her so well, even the person she pretends to be; while Ellie sings to an ex in the emotional and personal “Bleach”, wondering what would it take for her to erase him from her mind- and relaying to us all that sometimes break ups end badly, and that’s a part of life.
“Flux”, a pure piano track and a heartbreaking song about realising that you’re not in love with a person but the idea of being with them; speaks to the core of how some of us feel like when we experience celebrity crushes, yet need to ‘get over them’ and be present in the real world where we can miss our true special someone because our head is in the clouds. It’s a vulnerable and emotional song, and a track that I’m sure we can identity with and relate to. The title track is next and speaks about the security Ellie has in the love she has for her husband, as we realise that we can find a love that pure and true- either in our special significant others God has prepared for us, or in God Almighty Himself. And this song, though containing ocean imagery, is so effective in its delivery, as we are met with a personal track, and one that inspires us to not settle for second best in our life, but to aim for whatever God has in store for us.
With the strings let “Overture” leading into pop tune “Worry About Me”, the emphatic, no-nonsense powerful pop anthem features blackbear on guest vocals, and triumphantly delves into freedom after the disintegration of a toxic relationship, with Ellie recounting that no one needs to worry about her. It’s a track that is full of life, freedom and joy- and as Ellie comes out of the other side of heartbreak (evidence in a number of songs here!), “Worry About Me” is the culmination of finally being able to be happy even when you’re not in a relationship. “Slow Grenade”, a reflective electronics led ballad with Lauv, is next, and highlights our subconscious want to be close to anyone, hence sometimes us wanting to be in ‘toxic’ relationships/ It’s a song that will confront some, but is needed so that we all can look at ourselves in the mirror and analyse ourselves; while “Close To Me” has Ellie singing with Swae Lee (and also on 2 other ‘clean’ versions) about how we as humans need connection, and that we all long to be loved in the most vulnerable and personal way. “Hate Me”, with Juice WRLD, delves into the concept of love and hate, and what could drive a person to hate someone after being in a relationship with them. Brightest Blue then ends with the super poppy and nostalgic “Sixteen”, with the track supposed to take us back to when we were all teenagers, and to when we all had the world at our fingertips and were fearless in living life.
19 tracks is definitely a mouthful. It might be too much in terms of number of songs. But Brightest Blue by Ellie Goulding is near flawless, as we are presented with an examination and essay in love and how to navigate the ups and downs of relationships. With Ellie’s project hitting home for people in relationships; I reckon that even single people will find something to love about here. To tell you the truth, I’m not really a fan of dance/pop and EDM. But this album has me moving my toes and my feet, and all the while listening to the thought-provoking lyrics. With songs like the title track, “Love I’m Given” and “Woman” all impressing and reminding us all that self-worth isn’t dependant on the love others have for us; we are presented with one of the most underrated albums of the year, yet also one of the strongest. So what more could you ask for on an album like this? Just… take a listen! No more questions… because you all have to trust me, alright?
4 songs to listen to: Love I’m Given, Woman, Flux, Brightest Blue
RIYL: Carly Rae Jepsen, Dua Lipa, Selena Gomez, Jessie J, Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Alicia Keys