2015 Mini-Reviews part 2, featuring Ashley Monroe, Halsey, Ellie Goulding and Alex G. (see Part 1 here).
There's no denying that Selena Gomez is on a winning streak, whether you measure "winning" by commercial success or quality. She hasn't released a full album since 2013's Stars Dance, but in between eras she released the heartbreaking The Heart Wants What It Wants as well as experimenting with a different genre by providing vocals on Zedd's I Want You To Know. With her first album on her new record label, Revival, she proves that she's a force to be reckoned with in the pop world, along with the likes of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.
Lots of amazing songs were released this summer, and some that were....less than amazing. This singles rundown will cover, essentially, the ones I have the most to say about, because due to my fall schedule I have less time for this blog. Sorry!
Katelyn Tarver - Nobody Like You With this catchy, sarcastic gem of a song I can say with utmost confidence that Katelyn Tarver is back. I didn't enjoy Weekend Millionaires very much, but this track is excellent, and perfect for summer, with clever, catchy lyrics and complementary production. It's vaguely reminiscent in theme of A Little More Free, the title track off her 2011 EP, but different in nearly all other aspects, making it stand out. Now when is this album coming?
Nine years ago on the 19th, Taylor Swift released her first single to country radio, Tim McGraw. Today she's the only artist to have three albums go platinum in a week, her latest album 1989 has had the beginning opening week since 2002, and has broken countless other records. What's more than that, she's connected to a generation of young fans who she describes as "her longest relationship". And in honor her and Tim McGraw, I've decided to make a special post with my favorite 10 songs by her. And I'm not going to be calling her "Harry Styles' ex girlfriend" or anything like that.
[Updated 3/12 with reviews of Beautiful Things and Hollow!]
Tori Kelly's had a long road to her debut album — an independent EP, a major label EP, elimination from American Idol and opening slots on tours for Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran. But with her debut album, blending acoustic songs, R&B and rap, it's evident that her record deal is well deserved, and American Idol made a mistake letting her go. (A side note — why are so many things leaking lately? Have some respect for the artists, people. I'm pretty sure it's easy enough to wait until it's officially released or officially available to stream.)
Reviews of Fly by Maddie & Tae, Style by Taylor Swift, Talk by Against the Current, All the Way by Megan & Liz, Heartbeat Song by Kelly Clarkson, Time Machine by Ingrid Michaelson and more.
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.
God Made Girls - RaeLynn
I have to say, the fact that RaeLynn actually co-wrote this song is quite the bonus. Add how it's co-written with Liz Rose (who's worked with Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood etc) and Nicolle Gaylon (who co-wrote both Miranda Lambert's Automatic and her "We Were Us" duet with Keith Urban), and it's sure to be a country hit. Which it is. The layered vocals at various points in the song are especially well done.
(Review of RaeLynn's Me EP)
Break Free - Ariana Grande ft. Zedd
This new song is one that can easily be replayed without me getting sick of it. It's hit the top 10 again, which really isn't any surprise. The more EDM-ish direction is a change, but not so much of one that it's unprecedented or alienating of her previous fanbase.
(Review of Ariana Grande's My Everything)
Magic - Tiffany Alvord
Magic is the second single off Tiffany Alvord's third album, and it certainly highlights the more produced sound that she's promised for a few songs on it. I'm not sure how much of a fan I am of the particular song, and it's not really my style, but Tiffany's voice shines like always.
(Review of Tiffany Alvord's Legacy)
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.