Olivia Lane has made a name for herself in country music already with singles such as "Steal Me Away" and "You Part 2". "You Part 2", her most recent single, contained a rap bridge and highlighted the pop-leaning direction her music was going in. Her debut album "Heart Unlocked" contains many songs like "You Part 2", and also several ballads and tracks with a definite message. It's pitched as acoustic, but the majority of the songs are much too produced to truly be considered acoustic. Despite being less cohesive than would be ideal for a debut album, it has many highlights as well as containing several important messages and describing a journey of sorts that Olivia has taken in country music. (Track by track review after the break)
New country artist and former pop artist Cam has already made a splash in the country world with her debut EP "Welcome to Cam Country" and her singles "My Mistake" and "Burning House". In her debut album as a country artist, Cam further defines her sound, releasing more beautiful ballads as well as raucous country songs and pop-influenced anthems. Of the new songs, the ballads are the best, but some of the upbeat country songs fall flat
Due to the sheer number of fall 2015 albums I didn't end up reviewing, I've decided to do smaller reviews of some albums I have less to say about and compile them into one post. This is part 1 of that post, featuring reviews of 25 by Adele, Light Up The Dark by Gabrielle Aplin, Thirty One by Jana Kramer and Storyteller by Carrie Underwood.
[This review will not be a track-by-track review as I am sacrificing in-depth reviews in some cases in order to review all the albums I want to review before 2016.]
It's rare that a lead single of an album so perfectly captures the essence of the upcoming album, but Young Blood from Not an Apology did this. It's full of the same teenage rebelliousness that courses through Not an Apology, making the entire album seem like the kind of album many people would describe as the anthems of millennials. Of course, the themes do become repetitive sometimes, and the lyric writing could've been a lot better on some tracks, but on the whole it's one of the most cohesive albums I've listened to in a while — almost as cohesive as Taylor Swift's 1989, and that's a feat not many can accomplish.
After a very bubblegum pop EP, more than a year of waiting, and so many pushing-offs of the release date (November 17th to February 3rd), girl group Fifth Harmony's debut album is finally here! It features collaborations with Kid Ink, Meghan Trainor, Tyga and credits songriters and producers such as Stargate, Dr. Luke, Cirkut, Harmony Samuels and Julian Bunetta. Unsurprisingly, it's full of songs that will be on repeat for days or weeks for their fans. The pleasant surprise is the overpowering message of girlpower, with songs that aren't pining over guys like in Leave My Heart Out of This and Who Are You from Better Together. Instead, the girls know their worth now, and a general theme of the album is "I know what I deserve, and you can leave if you don't give me it." There is still plenty of room for improvement on the lyrical front, however, and it's notable that this album actually features no tracks co-written by any of the members.
Sam Hunt is one of the three male country solo artists — along with Hunter Hayes and Scotty McCreery — who I will voluntarily purchase an album from and enjoy. As a whole, males in country music tend to resort to clichés, asking a girl to come up in their truck and ride. Few manage to escape this mold and actually write music that is worth listening to. But as an artist who is opening for Lady Antebellum on their Wheels Up tour and who writes with songwriters such as Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, it's safe to say he has.
I'd say that RaeLynn came to my attention like everyone else, on the Voice, but that would be a lie. I was looking at my Tumblr dashboard (which I have been wasting too much time on lately) and saw an upload of her single God Made Girls reblogged by Megan & Liz. Initially my response was hesitant, wondering if the song was a girl anthem or sexist, but I came to the conclusion that it was the first — albeit not the kind of girl anthem you'd see on popular radio in anywhere but the South. And I liked the song (the co-writers recruited are brilliant). So I was looking up her radio tours. And basically fell in love.
We had to wait entirely too long for her EP, but it's finally here.
This album is the follow up to Colbie Caillat's earlier release of the Gypsy Heart EP. (You can see my review of it here.) In this album, she's taken a very pop direction, working with people such as the producer Babyface, Toby Gad, Johan Carlsson (a member of the Sweedish alternative group Carolina Liar) and Max Martin (Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry). Surprisingly, there was also a cowrite with Liz Rose (cowriter of You Belong With Me and Tim McGraw by Taylor Swift) on the album, "Never Getting Over You". There are a few standouts on the second half of the album, namely "Land Called Far Away" and "Never Getting Over You". Other than that, the rest of the tracks are either decent but overly repetitive or just not good at all.
In general, I'd really only recommend four tracks on this album: Never Getting Over You, Land Called Far Away, Try and Never Gonna Let You Down. There are two tracks that are honestly to me not even worth a listen: Nice Guys (yup, we totally need more songs that are subtle-y misogynistic and guilt women into getting in relationships with guys who feel entitled to them) and Just Like That (way, way, way, way, way repetitive....see, that way got old fast!) Break Free, Bigger Love, and Floodgates are all worth a listen, but get a little boring.
Hopefully, the popularity of Try and the positive comments many reviewers are making about Never Getting Over You will make Colbie Caillat's label realize they made a big mistake pushing her towards pop. It's not that the album was so bad overall — it's just that she could've done so much better. 7/10.
"Searching for a sound we hadn't heard before", Taylor Swift describes her new album on the opening track, Welcome to New York, and that's a very accurate description. Her new album is a complete departure from her previous albums, even Red, and sees her firmly positioning herself as the new queen of pop. So of course, I like it less. I haven't really complained much about Max Martin (I don't like to complain that much on this blog) but my opinion is that his niche is dysfunctional relationship songs or dancepop fluff, and anything else he can't do well. I don't think he was the best executive producer or cowriter for this album (even if she was choosing to go pop.)
Ariana Grande's sophomore album is hotly anticipated, following three songs that peaked at the top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100, and a fourth peaking at 49. It features many collaborations with other rappers and singers — there are more tracks with a featured artist than without. This is perhaps where the album falls short — tending to overcomplicate and disrupt what could've been a smooth listening experience.
About the Blog
Fountain Pen Girl Album Reviews is a blog writing track-by-track reviews of new popular and independent music with a focus on female artists. The main genres that are covered on this blog are pop, country, singer-songwriter and alternative music, focusing especially on independent artists and female country artists. Enjoy my blog!
View archives by genre, artist and other tags here.