Release Date: November 4th 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Teddy Swims– Sleep Is Exhausting EP (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Devil In A Dress
- 2 Moods
- Someone Who Loved You
- The Plan
- Hold Me
It’s been a long time coming, but I think over the past couple of years, but definitely over the past year; I’ve come to a point in my life right now where I can say with confidence and unequivocally, that mainstream music isn’t bad at all. I knew it all in my head when I was actively listening to and reviewing mainstream albums from 2019 onwards (it was influenced I guess in part by Jon’s and my blog series about influential artists!). But I think at some point during 2021 a couple of years ago; I really started to appreciate what God was saying to me through all kinds of artists. In terms of music artists, the questions arose in 2021 during lockdown, as to whether I should stay safe or take a risk in terms of who I listen to- shall we stick to our preferences or find something else to latch onto, to challenge, inspire and encourage? And for me especially in 2021, I have been branching out in mainstream music (I mean, I have since 2018 and my review of Carrie Underwood’s Cry Pretty if you want to think about it technically!)- if you take a read of our reviews, you can see that we’ve been taking some pretty big risks- an example is reviewing both Olivia Rodrigo’s SOUR and The Veronicas’ GODZILLA around the same time in June/July 2021; while another example of really going out of our way, is reviewing albums from Coldplay, Taylor Swift (two of them here and here!), Natalie Hemby, JoJo and Kacey Musgraves all throughout 2021. And if you think about last year, albums from Demi Lovato (HOLY FVCK), Sabrina Carpenter (emails I can’t send), Tate McRae (I Used To Think I Could Fly), Sofia Carson (Sofia Carson), Carly Rae Jepsen (The Loneliest Time), even a song from Lady Gaga (“Hold My Hand”), were all reviewed- but we wouldn’t even think about it prior to 2020 or 2019. However, if there is one artist who has stretched my idea of how music should sound like, I reckon it has to be Teddy Swims and his debut EP Unlearning.
Teddy Swims is an artist that I don’t think has gone the traditional route in relation to how he has achieved stardom. Originally becoming famous after releasing a viral hit of the Bonnie Raitt cover “I Can’t Make You Love Me” on YouTube; he has gone from strength to strength- but has done so almost exclusively on the internet, via Youtube and social media. As a result, there hasn’t been many singles in the traditional sense… and much of the hype has been through the digital sphere. As such, Teddy may be one of those artists who might not have recorded anything had it not been for Youtube and social media. Had he been around in the 90’s… he might not have been a singer. And that’s not a diss to his singing ability, because Teddy has an out-of-this-world breathtaking voice. It’s just that the nature of how music is consumed these days, reminds us that artists are, and probably need to be, better placed now, with number of fans and followers even before having released an album, than they were before in the 80’s and 90’s- for any chance at stardom. And Teddy’s debut EP highlights this adaptability and gratefulness for his digital platform. This is a pop album, but Teddy’s vocals shine on almost every track. And as we have reviewed Unlearning here, as well as Teddy’s sophomore EP Tough Love; the time has come to be amazed by what Teddy has offered up next- his third and latest EP Sleep Is Exhausting.
As far as EP’s go, this latest project is powerful, compelling, inspiring, explosive, and vulnerable; with the songs complementing Teddy’s crazily awesome voice. There’s something for everyone on this album musically (gospel, soul, country, pop) while lyric-wise we are treated to some deep and profound gems and treasures. The EP opener “Devil In A Dress” is a satirical and tongue-in-cheek look at Teddy’s ex (or current lover?), as he compares her to the devil. And though the imagery isn’t literal, we get the sense that Teddy knows this relationship isn’t healthy for him, but he still commits to the relationship anyway because he loves this person. A song that encourages us to be in a relationship for all the right reasons and to get out if it is toxic and unhealthy; Teddy outlines that it is too late for him (he’s in love with a bad person and he doesn’t care!) but it’s not too late for the rest of us. “2 Moods”, a groovy 2-minute melody, follows, and lyrically and thematically follows on from the album opener. As Teddy outlines that his lover only has ‘two moods’ (a loving one and a outlandish aggressive one), we are subtly encouraged to steer clear from people who are too extreme and are too over-the-top. They may be good as acquaintances or friends, but Teddy encourages us to go for life partners who are a bit steadier. “Dose” is a R&B melody that compares a girl to a drug habit that Teddy just can’t shake (again, an unhealthy relationship!); while “Someone Who Loved You” is a emotional ballad of reflection and lamentation, with Teddy outlining that he was burned really badly by his ex and that he still loved her while he reckons she never loved him at all.
Thankfully, this EP isn’t all ‘doom-and-gloom’. “The Plan” recounts Teddy being at the start of a new relationship where he is head over heels with this girl- they’re in the honeymoon period of their relationship. Sleep Is Exhausting ends with an ode and a thank you and a shout-out to his current partner, for loving him completely and just being with him. It’s a sweet song to end a turbulent and emotionally up-and-down EP, but thankfully Teddy is in a good place now.
Unlearning is Teddy Swims’ story, and Tough Love continues in that trend. Sleep Is Exhausting is incredibly honest and vulnerable too- maybe even a tad too personal and vengeful. A personal, honest, and vulnerable depiction of everything Teddy has been going through, he passionately sings his heart and soul out; and there’s no doubt that he will go far. And as Teddy sings about a myriad and smorgasbord of issues on all three of his EP’s (when will he release a full-length album?), he absolutely tries his hardest here, and makes us feel at home. And… what else is there to talk about when I can just say listen to Teddy’s songs and be amazed? Well done, Teddy, I can’t wait to hear what God has in store for you in the future! Bring on the full-length debut studio album, whenever that may be!
3 songs to listen to: Dose, The Plan, Hold Me
RIYL: Lewis Capaldi, Chris Stapleton, Post Malone, Bruno Mars, Kane Brown