Review Corner: Liz Huett – STFU and Hold Me

lizhuett_2017-Aug-07Sour candy and whiskey, Huett fans.

Liz Huett has finally revealed her new single “STFU and Hold Me” and a new stage in her career begins. She’s been teasing us with new music for what feels like an age, but she has not been slacking on the job. Her effort pays off in a ballad that is both gentle and sassy. This ballad is less saccharine and more sour candy and whiskey.

That’s kind of Liz’s image in a nutshell. She’s going for the main spotlight now, but she’s not leaving herself behind. The song works as both a more direct approach to a relationship and as a simple advice to anybody who’s debating whether she’s headliner material.

The candid language is just a more realistic way of cutting through the all the red tape. Relationships are messy and sometimes words get in the way. It also makes me think this is a way in which Liz is defining where and when that song should be sing. I don’t think morning shows will get why there’s a swear word thrown in there, but a real couple in a real grown-up relationship will understand a lot better. Not everything comes with an instruction manual.

The song works in melody and harmony for a solo singer with key backup points, but I wouldn’t mind hearing it unplugged. It is not overproduced, and there are no bells or whistles getting in the way of Liz’ clear voice. I think she has a solid first single of what I hope is an upcoming album. Even as a standalone, it’s worth a top spot on your playlist.

Watch on YouTube

You can catch “STFU and Hold Me” on its several platforms here.

Review Corner: Ed Sheeran’s Divide (÷)

(Source: Asylum Records UK)

I’m on my way, driving at ninety down those country lanes…

Like a lot of other people, I got introduced to Ed Sheeran‘s music during his opening gig days on the Red Tour. He remains in my mind, a musical genius capable of putting his music center stage without little to no scenery. Back then his style was almost urban, and that’s never a bad thing. Beat and a rhythm comes so easily to him that for Divide, or to be specific the ÷ album, he’s already past the mastery of the craft and begin the innovation stage. Or perhaps both were always the same thing to him.

This is one of those albums you experience more than listen, where all melodies blend themselves together the first time and you don’t really want to interrupt by looking up song titles. It takes a second listen to forcibly abstract yourself from the audio and finally check out what was that amazing track you just heard. “Castle On The Hill” was a favourite before I even owned Ed’s third studio offering, a mix of nostalgia and longing in a coming of age story that is almost cinematic. I could recognize the pop and the club beats influencing Ed and he in turn influencing them back in “Shape of You”. I’m not much for dancing music but I can’t help but like it. He goes back to ballads easily, so “Perfect” is almost a surprise in the sense that it’s not an easy track musically and lyrically. A less musician would’ve been happy with less, but the more you hear the more you become impressed.

“Galway Girl” is another impressive feat that has Ed’s style as well as old time folk music, something out of a Celtic fairy tale. “Happier” and “What Do I Know?” are also impossible-to-skip favourites already. You might have heard of the story behind the tear-jerker “Supermarket Flowers” which is a beautiful tribute written from her mother’s point of view to her grandmother, but it’s still going to make you cry.

Highly recommended album to listen non-stop. Available now on iTunes.

Review Corner: Ingrid Michaelson’s It Doesn’t Have To Make Sense

(Source: Cabin 24 Records via ingridmichaelson.com)
(Source: Cabin 24 Records via ingridmichaelson.com)

Hello music lovers,

Ingrid Michaelson released a new album back in August 26. I’ve been taking my own sweet time to review It Doesn’t Have To Make Sense, and I make no apologies for that. It feels very much like two currents flowing into one, an anthemic one that almost branches from the same place where Lights Out came from and a more beat-like alternative one that comes around stronger past the middle. If you want to be blunt, you could say “Hell No” branches out of the rest of the tracks, but I’m actually catching different vibes on other tracks as well.

This time let’s start with what caught my ear. My favorites so far, if you will. It’s a strong start with “Light Me Up” which is unmistakably Ingrid, anthemic, rousing and feels connected to her past work. Next notable listen for me is “Another Life”. With a chorus dominated by very high notes, it’s symphonic, breaks off the mainstream and feels more experimental. “Hell No” is the strongest sound in the album. It’s the only one that amps the power of a power ballad really loud. This song will unavoidably cause a singalong to break out. “Celebrate” is a very beat heavy, making it the only other power song in the album. It’s also so rhythmical that feels like a bit of a hip hop has been added to its alternative vibe.

Also notable is “I Remember Her” is a low key slow song that has something beautiful in it that wants to make you play it in a dark room. It’s a slow start but “Drink You Gone” has a great chorus, although it’s rather quiet in its verses. “Whole Lot of Heart” sounds more like a hymn, a gospel as does “Miss America”, which is an inspirational tune. These two are quite easy to listen after the opening “Light Me Up” until the more experimental “Another Life” breaks the pattern.

Watch on YouTube

I found the entire album a great listen as a whole. Available now on iTunes.

Coming up next in the Calendar:

 

 

 

Review Corner: John Paul White’s Beulah

(Source: Single Lock Records via iTunes)
(Source: Single Lock Records via iTunes)

Once there was the Civil Wars…

It’s been four years since the band stopped touring (November 2012) and stopped altogether. It’s been a while for John Paul White, but he has been working on a new solo album, something he hasn’t done in eight years. Now he’s finally in a place where he can put out new music and the result is the new Beulah. I picked it up on a whim and recognized the voice and the guitar.

It’s hard not to make “What’s So” into an instant favourite. Dark overtones, upbeat tempo, lashing vocals, it wouldn’t be out of place in a western film. Then there’s subtle but insidious “Black Leaf”, feisty “Fight For You” and another folk anthem with “The Martyr”. On a different tone, there’s “The Once and Future Queen” and “I’ve Been Over This” for more Americana folk. The tug at the heartstrings come via “Make You Cry” and “Hope I Die”. You will definitely find some flavour reminiscent of the Wars’ Barton Hollow, but this one’s all John Paul White and the deep South Americana in bloom.

Here’s the video for “What’s So” which I can’t seem to stop listening to at the moment.

Watch on YouTube

You can pick up the album on iTunes. You might not be into folk music or the Americana genre, but then again you might. I’d suggest you try listening a little. It’s good to listen to a little of everything.

Coming up next in the Calendar:

Out of the Woods: The monsters turn out to be just trees. A video review and commentary.

Happy 2016, Taylor Nation!

We got a pretty sweet present on New Year’s Eve. Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy that was visiting some family down south (wayyy down south in South America, actually), we had to wait after the fireworks display was over to have a look. It’s Out of the Woods in video form, as directed by Joseph Kahn and starring the Enchantress herself:

Watch on YouTube

And yes, it was beautiful and meaningful. It should not escape nobody that this video was about heartbreak- but this time, the solution was not getting the guy. If you’ve heard the song, you probably have sensed the spirit of the chase. The video embodies this as Taylor is chased by wolves, trees, nature in distinct environments. Earth, wind, water and fire are present. In the end, she doesn’t really lose her captors. She stops running. Spoiler alert. She finds herself.

It’s a very specific imagery she’s using. Personally I think wolves get a bad rap. Here once again they are the pursuers. Vines tangle and snare. Mud soils and stain. Tabloid media is well represented BUT here’s the trick – Taylor makes songs to represent the feeling rather than the actual situation. This allows YOU the viewer to make this relatable to your life. Intentionally, you can apply this hunting allegory to a bad situation you’re working through. And yes, it might be a little too corny to say the solution is to find yourself but we need to hear it. Favorite moment: Taylor’s face-of-fury as she goes through the mud.

Update: On other news, the People’s Choice Awards were happening a moment ago. Taylor Swift won for Favorite Pop Artist and Favorite Female Artist.

(Source: Big Machine Records)
(Source: Big Machine Records)

Coming up in the Calendar:

  • January 6: People’s Choice Awards.
  • February 15: It’s the 58th Annual Grammy Awards! Taylor is nominated for Album of the Year for 1989, Record of the Year for “Blank Space”, Song of the Year for “Blank Space”, Best Pop Solo Performance for “Blank Space”, Best Pop Duo Group/Performance for “Bad Blood”, Best Pop Vocal Album for 1989 and Best Music Video for “Bad Blood”.

(Sources: YouTube)