Big Noise Music Group
Release Date: January 8th 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Throughout my entire life, I’ve always believed that Christian music was good and that mainstream music was bad. That was what was drilled into me when I was young- and it was only 2-3 years ago that I branched out and discovered that beauty of other types of music and that God can speak through them too. After all, he spoke through Balaam’s donkey thus He can do anything, right?
My journey of listening to mainstream music started with Rachel Platten (Wildfire and Waves), Cimorelli (Up All Night, Alive and Sad Girls Club) and Carrie Underwood (specifically her 2018 album Cry Pretty); however the journey of me consciously listening to mainstream music and liking it and being inspired by it was with Avril Lavigne’s 2019 album Head Above Water. To tell you all the truth, I hadn’t actively listened to Avril’s music (apart from singles like “Complicated” and “Keep Holding On”, which both played on Hope 103.2 time and time again!) until Avril dropped the single “Head Above Water” in September 2018. And that was only because the song featured in my Release Radar Spotify playlist- and you can indeed read the review of that single here! However since that time, I’ve been eagerly awaiting Avril’s new album (and you can read my glowing review of that project here!)- yet the fact remains. Would I have been excited for Avril’s comeback album had she not sung a ‘Christian’/‘worship’ song; if “Head Above Water” was a pop/punk/rock anthem rather than a soft inspirational ballad? Maybe, maybe not. However, over the past 6 years, Avril has had many a hardship. She has toiled, put the hard work and the effort in, written music not for the sake of doing an album, but as a way of healing while she was sick; and has come through the tunnel- through the other side of adversity- with much perspective and a different outlook.
Avril Lavigne’s tenacity, grit, and determination to inspire us all in the midst of trials and tribulations is what I admire about her, and it is this resolve shown in all of these 12 songs, that makes Head Above Water stand head and shoulders above quite a lot of albums from 2018, 2019 and 2020- and certainly above any recent pop album that basically sings about sex, drugs, living for yourself and living in the moment. Jon has blogged about Avril Lavigne in his series about most influential artists of all time… but as we enter 2021, Avril is back with a brand new single, called “Flames”. A hard rocking and powerful duet with MOD SUN (I have no idea who that is- sorry I’m not up to date on current rock trends!); “Flames” stands as only 2 and a half minutes- although it packs an immense punch lyrically.
As Avril and Derek (I had to google Mod Sun to find his first name!) sing in perfect harmony and we hear a Manafest type track; we are reminded of an unhealthy relationship and the lengths people go to convince themselves that they’re meant to be together with ____. A warning of sorts, “Flames” is similar to “Flames” from Lauren Cimorelli; as Avril and Derek remind us sometimes people can fall about into habits that aren’t healthy- and also subtly encourage us to look in the mirror to see if we’re the person we want to be and the person we are proud of. And as we enter into 2021, isn’t self-reflection a good thing?
I think I have Avril Lavigne to thank mostly for me liking mainstream music more and more. She has shown me that any type of music can have a message- and that God speaks through the unexpected. “Flames” is another song that is a winner for Avril… but I won’t be listening to MOD SUN– simply because he gave me a headache the whole time! Nonetheless, “Flames” is lyrically quite confronting- and if Avril’s new album slated to be released in 2021 is like this (maybe with some softer ballads as well!), then this should be one of 2021’s most anticipated albums! I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will check out Avril’s discography from here on out- so thanks Avril for providing us with a stirring album in Head Above Water that has made me a fan; and a worthy follow-up in “Flames”! Kudos to everyone involved- Head Above Water is a masterpiece beyond words- and I can’t wait to see what is next in the future!
RIYL: Taylor Swift, Jessie J, RED, Manafest, Flyleaf, Demi Lovato, Kelly Clarkson, Selena Gomez, Echosmith