Fantasy Records / Concord Music Group
Release Date: October 8th 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Apart from death and taxes, I reckon there’s at least one other thing that is true in the world, no matter what. And it is that Taylor Swift is one of the most prolific, though-provoking, skilful, confronting, and inspiring songwriters of the modern music era. Her vocals as an artist are great too, compelling, stirring and quite heavenly really; but I believe that it is Taylor’s nuanced, level-headed, honest, personal, emotional, and empathetic narrative storytelling… that really cements her place in this list of influential artists of all time. It is the song-writing in my opinion that also lands her as one of the most relatable people in the world at the moment. There seriously isn’t anything to dislike about Taylor Swift (name me one thing- with evidence! I’ll keep waiting!), and her songs throughout her discography has received widespread listener, critical and commercial acclaim. Taylor has broken a lot of Guinness World Records for her music, and she is one of the best-selling artists of today. With Taylor being prominent throughout her career in the genres of country, pop and folk; it is her down-to-earth nature, her humbleness and her kindness that seems to win fans over. And as for me and my listening experience to Taylor’s discography over the past couple of weeks; can I say that I am now a bona-fide fan of hers? Of her song writing and of her singing? Taylor has accomplished a lot in her 15 years in the spotlight, and she has grown up immensely. Granted, she’s grown up primarily in the spotlight and in the public eye, however I reckon that the way that she has handled criticism and haters has been full of professionalism, poise, and grace. The way she tackled the masters’ controversy in 2019 was quite mature, firm, and assertive, and made me respect her all the more. But for me my love for Taylor’s music and her storytelling, is embedded in her songs and how deep she dives. Every Taylor Swift song means something to someone- and that is what I reckon is so profound, special and beautiful about everything that Taylor releases.
Release Date: April 30th 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Sometimes artists have the ability to sneak up on you with their music. Not necessarily in a bad way, but in a way that is unexpected and from left field. One minute in your life, you wouldn’t even consider listening to them, or in some cases, may not have even heard of them. And then in the next, you’re listening to their music, enjoying it, and realising that the style of music you are indeed hearing, is such that maybe, you need at that particular moment. For artists do come and go within the music industry- they often start off with a bang, release a solid debut album, and then maybe fizzle off into the ether, for one reason or another. Then there are artists that keep going and going, creating albums that impact the mind and challenge our very souls, year after year after year. There are artists we may not have heard of before, and then there are artists that we hear constantly on the radio. And both these artists- the overplayed and the unassuming, are valid and needed in society, they each provide a service and fill a void, creating music for people, in different situations, circumstances and purposes. And here in these blog posts that I’ve been undertaking for a year and a half, most of them are such where their music haven’t been at the forefront of my own mind until the time that I have discussed them…and then later, I realise that the artist and the music I have just listened to, shouldn’t have been as foreign and unknown as it was for me. I have since realised that because of my CCM bubble that I grew up in during my primary school years (and well into my teens and young adult (Y.A.) years), I missed out on some good quality music, music that God has used in people’s lives, just the same as CCM. And now in this year and a half, I’ve lifted the lid and realised this one very thing- that whether someone likes CCM or mainstream music, isn’t really the matter to God. He will use whatever He wants to, to connect people towards Himself. What does matter are people’s hearts, and sometimes in the unlikeliest of circumstances, it can be the unassuming artists that come along, and tug at our very hearts, and really challenge what it truly means to love God and love people well in this life.
What are some of the fondest memories of your childhood? The moments in time, when you were younger, where all the things that mattered in that moment, was enjoying what was in front of you, where you didn’t care about anything except for the enjoyable moment that you were in? Everyone has times in their life, where they look back and think ‘yes, this was a time in my life where things were simpler. Where I didn’t worry or care about the responsibilities that I have now, or when I just enjoyed life and the simpler moments, just because’. I know there have been moments in my own life where that has happened. In a nutshell, it was when I was watching movies…Disney in particular. And while right now Disney has become a massive conglomerate- with its own television channel (Disney +), once upon a time, Disney and its movies shaped a generation of people growing up, like no other. For me I was born the late 1980s; and grew up in the 1990s. I can remember my parents saying that for every day during my formative years (let’s say I was around 3 – 4), I’d want to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, every day. Maybe that did happen like I may have wanted it back then, maybe my mum didn’t cave, and I only watched the movie once every few days. Nevertheless, Disney was a big part of my childhood growing up. Movies like The Lion King, The Jungle Book, Oliver and Company, The Fox and the Hound, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Mulan, Hercules, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dumbo, Robin Hood, Tarzan, A Goofy Movie and The Sword in the Stone, have all been watched by myself and my family at various points during my primary school years, some movies maybe more than once. I am reminded even now much of a positive impact Disney and its movies has had on myself as I was growing up, but I guess through all of those aforementioned movies above, I guess the one category of Disney movies that have been my favourite, and will still be my favourite as the years continue to progress, would be movies under the umbrella of Disney/Pixar. A partnership between the Walt Disney Company and Pixar Animation Studios, movies started to flourish from 1995 onward. Starting off its catalogue with the highly successful (and now highly nostalgic) Toy Story (starring heavyweight actors like Tom Hanks and Tim Allen), the Disney-Pixar brand has continued to be a reckoning force even now in 2020. One such movie that stood out to me during the 1990s from Disney Pixar was in fact the 1999 movie Toy Story 2- a sequel to the 1995 classic movie Toy Story. Not that the storyline to the 1999 movie was memorable at all- in fact, in 2020, I can’t really recall what happened in the 1999 film, only the basic plot that Woody was stolen from a yard sale by a greedy toy collector, learning about his own origins as being a main character in a fictitious 1950s TV show, all the while, the other toys (Buzz, Rex, Hamm, Slinky etc.) try to rescue Woody from being sold to a Japanese museum. While the plot itself is a little convoluted for kids to even follow, what stood out for me, years later even in 2020, was the original song written for the movie.
‘…how I felt when I wrote 21, I wouldn’t want to feel again. It was horrible. I was miserable, I was lonely, I was sad, I was angry, I was bitter. I thought I was going to be single for the rest of my life. I thought I was never going to love again. It’s not worth it. Well, it was worth it, because, obviously, of what’s gone on. But I’m not willing to feel like that to write a song again. I’m not…If I wanted to just be famous, like be a celebrity, then I wouldn’t do music, because everything else I’ve been offered would probably make me more famous than I am just with my music. Commercials, being the face of brands, nail varnishes, shoes, bags, fashion lines, beauty ranges, hair products, being in movies, being the face of a car, designing watches, food ranges, buildings, airlines, book deals. I’ve been offered everything. And I don’t want to water myself down. I want to do one thing. I want to make something. I don’t want to be the face of anything…’
If I am being completely honest, this upcoming blog post would have to be the one, out of all the 60 (61st currently right now) I have undertaken, where I’ve been literally worried and scared to do. I know I shouldn’t really be worried, because this post is just one mere man’s opinion, but in all honesty, I just can’t help it. Maybe it’s because Adele is one of the most popular British icons in British music history, and she has one of the most emotive, poignant and prolific voices ever, and therefore whatever I say won’t ever be enough to say about one of the 21st century’s most impactful and articulate singer-songwriters this generation have ever seen. Or maybe it’s just nerves, and this blog post is simultaneously the one where I’m prepared to a point, but also neither prepared at all, all at the same time. Regardless, this blog post about Adele would have to be, like U2, the one where people would automatically slot into their list of influential artists- if people even had lists nowadays. Across every person’s musical preferences, enjoyable melodies, and genres that they gravitate towards over the years, one cannot deny the importance, influence and impact Adele has had across her 3 albums, on music history. This blog post quite possibly can be the shortest blog yet that I’ve ever written (what can be said that hasn’t been said already by publications and news articles online from songfacts, songmeanings and medium.com, to NPR, Rollingstone and video interview on the youtube site Skavlan), but also simultaneously one of the most heartfelt, emotive and poignant that has ever been written within my 1 and a half year musical journey from February 2019 till now. For we all know Adele’s vocals can pierce depths of our hearts that only certain people can go- for that is why her albums are such relatable for people, and her down-to-earth atmosphere she portrays in video interviews is certainly contagious and a joy to watch. We are reminded through Adele’s career that these people we call musicians (that we often place on a pedestal) are in fact humans like me and you. They have faults, they’re not some super-people that we often idolise and believe they can do no wrong. It is in these moments of vulnerability in interviews that we see the transparency of these artists, and we respect these people whose music we listen to, all the more.