Release Date: March 25th 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- It’s Only Love, Nobody Dies
- Como, Cuando Y Donde
- Still Love You
- Fool’s Gold
- He Loves Me But…
- Two Tears In A Bucket
Over the past month or so, there have been pretty harrowing things that have been happening and occurring in the world today. Pretty heavy stuff like the Ukraine-Russian war, the constant floods in Australia, the news about Brian Houston as well as the controversial and divided issue of Lia Thomas winning a women’s swimming event. As well as the ongoing underlying Omicron variant and its offshoots. Personally, my brother and I bought a puppy as well, so this past month, we’ve been rather busy training him and getting him used to our house. And so, for those of you who have noticed a break of reviews from Jon and myself, let me just say that normally I’d soldier on and review albums periodically every few days. Yet with all of these things happening, Jon and I decided to take a bit of a break. And that’s understandable. I think we took a few weeks off reviewing back in 2018 and at various points in 2021 and earlier this year. But by and large, we’ve been persisting and on the go for 8 years and counting. Mentally, physically, emotionally, I’m not sure if that’s healthy. Regardless of whether it was right for Jon and myself to keep going at reviewing at a rather frenetic pace for this long; the point still stands that this past month of me taking a break was somewhat rejuvenating, as I sat reflecting on everything happening in the world and what I wanted the future of this site to look like. The end result which I figured out a few days ago? That the vision and the mission is still the same- with the vision being to be a positive influence in the entertainment industry, to be an atmosphere and space where everyone can participate in encouraging discussions about life, hope and joy; and the mission being to encourage people in their walk with Jesus, to recommend inspiring and motivational music, TV shows, movies, books and other forms of entertainment that breathe life into people and gives meaning and purpose, and to be a space where people are not afraid to talk about the issues that they are dealing with.
Jon and I still want to review uplifting and edifying music, movies and TV shows (and books eventually, we hope!), and though we have done that this year (albums from Casting Crowns, Adam Agee, OneRepublic, Passion and Walker Hayes each showing us positivity and optimism to varying degrees!); there had to be one album that would undoubtedly convince me to jump back into reviewing on a now regular basis. And… there was one. And no, it’s not albums from for KING & COUNTRY, Bryan Adams, Rebecca St. James, Maddie & Tae, Avril Lavigne, Martin Smith, Brooke Ligertwood, Ella Henderson, Ben Rector, Maren Morris, Michael Bublé, Skillet, Mandy Harvey, The Shires, or Jennifer Lopez! All of these albums will be reviewed by either me or Jon in the near future; however the self-titled debut album from Sofia Carson has moved me immensely and has greatly impressed and impacted me… to the point where I couldn’t not talk about it first as my ‘comeback review’! It’s an album that, though short at 28 minutes, tells a story and speaks volumes and is lyrically multilayered. It’s an album that isn’t as popular, however I firmly believe that this, alongside Casting Crowns’ Healer, is the album to listen to in 2022 so far. Sofia may not be popular right now, but her burgeoning influence reminds us that the future of pop music is indeed bright.
When I was 11 years old, I was given a songbook that I wrote all my songs in, and on the very first page I wrote: ‘I hope that when people listen to my music, they hear their story in mine’. I always knew that with my first album, I wanted to tell a story from start to finish, so I did. I wrote a story about love: about a girl who falls into a beautiful but deceiving love only to get shattered into pieces, but nonetheless, the story about a girl who survives. These songs, this story, this album is my heart, which I am sharing with the world, completely. So with my heart in my hand, I hope that when you listen to this album, you hear your story in mine.
Sofia Carson and her discography (and her filmography!), was sort of a left field surprise for me back in late 2020; with her impacting and hopeful constant release of singles, and her relatable and powerful roles in each of her films, reminding me to keep a more focused look on her as the years progressed. Because back in 2020, I could tell she was destined for greater things. A triple threat in her own right (singer, actor, dancer!), I first heard about Sofia probably about in October 2020, when the song “Guess I’m A Liar” released. I don’t know what I was doing one day, but going to youtube.com and having a look, resulting in YouTube recommending me her video for “Guess I’m A Liar” in my feed. I paid no attention- simply because I was under the impression that Sofia was just another pop star; and then it was later a couple of weeks later that my paths crossed with her music yet again- my brother and I watched the entire 3 movies of The Descendants (you can read my review here!)… and guess what? Yep, it was Sofia’s performance in these movies (acting-wise and her singing ability!) that resonated with me and captivated my attention.
After watching another one of Sofia’s movies (Feel The Beat) and then me consciously exploring her discography and her singles such as “Back To Beautiful”, “Love Is The Name”, “I Luv U”, “Miss U More Than U Know”, “Different World” and “Ins And Outs”; I found myself more and more inspired and encouraged by her music. Sofia is an artist that the world doesn’t know that well- simply because she hasn’t released a full-length album yet. But as God has put things in my place for me to be more familiar with her music, and for me to enjoy her music… so too will he draw Sofia’s music to others. The more I listened, the more I wanted to tell others about this young woman who is changing the world through her music, her movies and her sheer optimism and positivity. If you want to know more about Sofia and her upbringing, then google is your friend, as well as Wikipedia, and my reviews of Feel The Beat and The Descendants. I also reviewed her songs “Guess I’m A Liar” and “Hold On To Me” here; and now that we’re all up to date on all things Sofia Carson, now here we are, in 2022, with Sofia’s debut album.
Why would we as people be excited about Sofia’s album when it’s only 28 minutes long and she isn’t a household name? Well, I’d say for one, that this album tells a cohesive story, and a story about love and loss. It’s a story that would be extremely relatable to a number of people listening (even though it’s not relatable with myself on the exact same level that Sofia intended it to be!), and though the album thematically is about Sofia falling in love with a guy that ultimately wasn’t good for her in the end, with her realising that she would be fine and strong and fearless just by loving and accepting herself; Sofia Carson can be viewed lyrically and thematically in many different ways in my own opinion. “Fool’s Gold”, a promotional single for the project, is one of the recognisable tracks on this album (having been released in the beginning of 2021); and though the song is short at only 2 and a half minutes, what the track lacks in duration makes up for in message and delivery. With this danceable EDM tune, Sofia earnestly relays and asks the question of whether her soon-to-be significant other is the real deal or ‘fool’s gold’- real or fake. With the music video being Sofia posing questions to a guy while showing off her car and also while walking through a burning fire; we are met with a song about identity and security in spite of a relationship or not. As we humans love to place attachment on our relationships and place our self-worth in them, Sofia eloquently reminds us that we need not step into a relationship if the timing isn’t right and if they aren’t the person for us. “He Loves Me But…”, another promotional single, is short as well in length, but Sofia does exude passion, intensity, and a thought-provoking message. As Sofia fervently relays to us her frustrations with a guy and how he says he loves her but then seems noncommittal and disinterested; we are met with someone who is only half-invested in the relationship. Someone who says one thing with their words but acts another way with their actions. And this is someone who needs to be removed from your life very quickly, no matter if they object or cry crocodile tears. And though this song is about a relationship presumably, I reckon it can be applicable to any toxic relationship- platonic ‘friendships’ as well. The song title seems to be the persona rationalising why they are staying with the other person- and this track, though brief, lets us to dwell upon why we make the decisions we do, and are they healthy for us in the long run. Do we need to be in a relationship to appreciate this song? No, no we don’t; and Sofia beautifully encapsulates the notion that we need to find someone who is just as passionate and ‘all-in’ as we are. If we don’t, and we then settle; then things could end in disaster. Take “He Loves Me But” as a warning of sorts.
With these promotional singles being tales of hurt and pain, “LOUD”, the album’s official first single, is a happier and more jovial affair. With Sofia emphatically and powerfully depicting a realisation and understanding and an awareness of identity and uniqueness in who you are as a person despite the people around you, “LOUD” encourages us all to stand up and stand for who we are as people and who we are in spite of the negative people around us. As Sofia unequivocally imparts to us the notion that we can be loud and rowdy and sure and certain of who we are and we don’t need negative people in our lives to bring us down, and we can be confident and happy despite circumstances and situations; it is Jon who said it best in his review of the single- and thus, I will quote: Sofia’s new song challenges the status quo, and gives us confidence to speak up for ourselves, that what we have to say isn’t anything to be ‘ashamed’ or ‘worried’ about, that just because we’re not the typical people that speak generally, doesn’t mean that we don’t have anything good to say. While the song focuses on women speaking up for what they believe to be true, this song can still apply to a variety of situations and people- anyone that knows they are a ‘minority’ (for whatever reason) and knows that they’re seemingly being dismissed of their ideas, because of the very fact that they are _____ (fill in the blank). ‘LOUD’ encourages people to step out of the fear that has held them back, and to jump into a sea of peace and calm as they share their stories of hope, determination, and perseverance. ‘LOUD’ encourages people to be ‘uncomfortable’- knowing full well that we were not meant to be on this earth to ‘play it safe’. To be the one that makes another uncomfortable, is actually a good thing- it means that the person who is seemingly ‘uncomfortable’ with your presence, is really tapping into their biases, insecurities, and assumptions. And maybe fleshing out those dormant views is something that can be good in the future- that once we acknowledge things that are harmful to ourselves and others, the sooner that we can change and become better role models to society and other people that are looking up to us in a way that we look up to our own mentors and role models.
The rest of the 7 songs from Sofia speaks about various points along the journey of love and loss and rising up from the ashes; and reminds us that each and every part of the human experience can help us grow as people, and can even be used by God to draw us closer to Him and to draw us all closer to each other as friends and family. “It’s Only Love, Nobody Dies”, the album opener, has Sofia powerfully imparting to us that she is stuck in the tenson of being in a relationship with someone not that healthy for her, knowing that it’s wrong, but still in love with that person. In the song, Sofia sings that she knows she has to get out, but still wants one more kiss, and accepting the notion that after the relationship, she will survive, because ‘it’s only love, nobody dies’. With Sofia conveying to us that being in an unhealthy relationship, whether it is romantic or platonic, isn’t ideal at all, can be destructive, this is a warning song; while “Sugar” speaks about the initial stages of a relationship where everything is rosy and sunshine and rainbows. We have our blinders on and believe this relationship to be THE ONE for us, even if it isn’t. And though this song speaks about obsessing over someone and believing that they’re the answer to all of our problems, the track also encourages us to not go overboard with someone that quickly in a relationship, while also outlining that we shouldn’t place people on a pedestal for any reason. “Timeless”, an out and out pop song at 2 and a half minutes, speaks about the moment when we feel like we’re invincible in the relationship, and that this person with us feels the same way, that we’re ‘timeless’ together. It’s a love song at its core but also a track that speaks about the intensity of a love and subtly about how that might be a way for a relationship to unravel and unravel quickly; while the heartbreaking, emotional, poignant and tragic ballad “Stay” details a person not completely over their ex, and is one of the standouts on this album.
Songs sung in another language are something that I reckon are anointed by God, and I reckon you can be blessed and inspired by these songs even if you don’t understand it. This is the case with Sofia’s “Como, Cuando Y Donde”, roughly translated to “How, when and where”, whereby Sofia pours her heart out and laments about the ex that got away, also surmising about what she would to differently if she had the chance. A song that can heal us or can get us more beat up about the end of something good, this track is pure brutal emotions of sadness and contemplation; and is sure to help us heal from each of our own pains. “Still Love You”, a song whereby Sofia is caught in the tension of loving an ex and hating him, is sure to be relatable to quite a number of people who listen to this track; while Sofia’s debut album ends with the self-empowering no-nonsense track “Two Tears In A Bucket”, similar in theme to “LOUD”, with Sofia relaying to her ex that he’ll only be ‘two tears in a bucket’ compared to everything else in her life that she will experience that is both good and bad and everything in between.
I’ve been dreaming about what I was going to title my first album since I could remember. When it came to making the decision a couple of months ago, it was actually really simple because, to me, my art and my music is a reflection of my heart. It’s who I am, and so it only made sense to me that my first album would be Sofia Carson.
I wrote my first song when I was 11 years old and I remember falling so deeply in love with songwriting, with being able to—through words and through melodies—bring to life the secrets that lied in my heart. For some reason, the most vulnerable and perhaps the scariest thoughts could feel safe in a song. I had song journal that I would carry around everywhere that I went and in the very first page I wrote, “I hope that when people listen to my music, they hear their story in mine.”
I think that’s what I love most about storytelling and songwriting. When I listen to Taylor [Swift], when I listen to Ed [Sheeran], hearing their story, I hear my own. I think that’s such a beautiful and magical thing. It’s almost like a little bit of magic in the world that connects us all as humans.
I’m so lucky because I’m on this journey with my mom and she’s by my side, holding my hand every step of the way. Because of her, I am where I am. I think she feels proud and grateful. Both of us, I think, feel tremendously lucky to have each other and to be able to cherish these moments together—because if moments like this aren’t shared with those that you love, they don’t mean as much.
Growing up, the role models that I admired were women who were trailblazers, women like Cher, like Barbra Streisand. I would come home every day from school and watch Cher’s concerts, and then I would watch her movies. I was in awe of the fact that she wasn’t just a woman in the industry who was an incredible pop artist and a musician, but she was a director and she was producer and she was an actor. My forever icon is Audrey Hepburn. She dedicated her life to giving and to philanthropy. Those were the examples that I always longed to follow.
Sofia Carson isn’t that well known in the music industry. But with her debut album Sofia Carson where she tells her story and inspires us all to live a full life despite the hardships in it; she will undoubtedly be popular and incredibly influential this year and into the future. Sofia has also released her new movie Songbird with KJ Apa in December 2020, and she has also signed on to the movie Purple Hearts later on this year– she’s also slated to write and perform on the film’s soundtrack also. With a strong debut (just outside the top ten in the iTunes pop charts)- sky’s the limit for this inspirational and humble young woman who no doubt will be popular, but will also inspire us all to live the best lives that we can. So as you all wait for us to restart our reviewing; what better way to end it than to listen to Sofia Carson? What do you guys reckon? Well done Sofia, I can’t wait to hear what it next for you in 2021!
Her Story: she’s falling for a love that feels like Fool’s Gold. A kiss that feels like Sugar. And when they’re together, it feels like they’re love is Timeless. Until one day, he looks into her eyes and says “I Love You. But…”. Tears fall down her face like rain. But she holds her head high, and realises he will never deserve more from her than Two Tears In A Bucket. Even though every part of her wishes that he would Stay. Because deep in her heart, no matter how much she tries to fight it, or how much she wishes it wasn’t true; her truth is: I Still Love You. And every night, as she looks up at the sky, she wonders Como, Cuando Y Donde. Until she realises, she’s more than ok. She’s LOUD. And no matter how much it hurts deep down inside, she finds the strength to survive because “It’s Only Love, Nobody Dies”.
3 songs to listen to: LOUD, Stay, Two Tears In A Bucket
RIYL: Dove Cameron, Selena Gomez, Bebe Rexha, Tori Kelly, Demi Lovato, Sabrina Carpenter, Little Mix, Jess Glynne