Release Date: January 21st 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Please Turn Green
- For The Rest Of Your Life
- Love For A Minute
- Simple Things
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 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 (last year); I really started to appreciate what God was saying to me through all kinds of artists. In terms of music artists, the questions arose last year 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 last year, I have been branching out in mainstream music (I mean, I have since 2018 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 last year in June/July; 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 throughout last year. These are albums that even a year ago we’d frown at. 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”; 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, the time has come to be amazed by what Teddy has offered up next- his latest EP Tough Love.
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 album opener is the gospel infused pop song “911” and is an earnest and honest promise to a loved one that the persona is going to be reliable, faithful and dependable- always by the side of the other person, whenever they call. Reminding us all, that we need to show our friends and family that can be that person that can be called upon in any and every situation, “911” highlights the importance of a ‘ride-or-die’ person in your life, regardless of if it is a romantic relationship or a platonic friendship. The heartbreaking and emotional ballad “Please Turn Green” has Teddy praying to a traffic light to turn green; and it is because in this song, the persona meets his ex and the new partner at the red traffic lights in the car. A melody signifying the reality of someone not being able to fully ‘get over’ someone else until you somehow do, no matter how long it takes; this thought-provoking melody reminds us that people are people, and we all go through complex and confusing situations- it’s just part of life.
“For The Rest Of Your Life”, a happy-go-lucky poppy melody about being happy and content in love, reminds us all that love can and will find us in the most unexpected of places and times; while the piano ballad “Amazing” carries on thematically and lyrically from the previous song, with Teddy eloquently relaying to his partner that she looks amazing every time and all the time. “Love For A Minute”, a confronting, hard-hitting track, disses an ex as he relays that she didn’t love him and she only used him throughout the duration of the relationship. Tough Love then ends with the acoustic country-esque ballad “Simple Things”, a melody where Teddy fervently sings about getting back to the heart of what it means to be human and truly alive- the simple things and not chasing after things that don’t matter in the end.
Unlearning is Teddy Swims’ story, and Tough Love continues in that trend. 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 his debut EP and on this EP, 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 (both EP’s!) 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: For The Rest Of Your Life, Amazing, Simple Things
RIYL: Lewis Capaldi, Chris Stapleton, Post Malone, Bruno Mars, Kane Brown