Like I said in my first installment of assorted music reviews, if I don’t specify where these albums or Extended Plays (EPs) are from, then that means that they can be found on Apple Music. But also, with each piece of music, I’m writing about the songs in a shuffled manner, as it’s fun for me to not know what song will be coming up next. So this time around, I’ll start with reviewing the Billie Eilish album entitled “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? First thing’s first: this album title is seriously one of the best titles I’ve ever heard for something. But also, while this particular album was Billie Eilish’s second album to be released, this album was my first time even hearing of Billie. In fact, I vividly remember that one day when my caretaker was taking me to school last fall, he told me he had a new album to show me. Now, he and I love the same kinda music, though he mainly sticks to rap, R&B and alternative music genres. But anyway, the very first Billie Eilish song that he showed me, was the one called “You Can See Me In A Crown.” And from the beginning of the song, I knew that I’d be a huge fan of her music. And so, my caretaker and I got into the habit of listening to this particular album whenever he’d take me to school or pick me up from school. And the thing is, Billie Eilish is one of those rare artists for me, whose singing voice I love to listen to, even if the song that’s playing isn’t one that’s upbeat. But while Apple Music has this album under the alternative music genre, I’d say that there are also R&B type songs on it. There are also acoustic type songs on it which I love. There is even a song on it where Billie has clips from the show The Office that she combines with her singing. That song called “My Strange Addiction” is really well done, even though I can’t stand the show The Office. I do at least know that show’s characters enough to know exactly who is who in the particular clips that Billie Eilish uses for this song. So creatively, this album is definitely one of the best albums of all-time. Billie Eilish is truly one of the most talented kid musicians I’ve lived to see take the world by storm. Her confidence is something that I’m envious of in a way, as I certainly was not anywhere near as confident at 18 years old as she is at that age. But also, her ability to come up with song beats that are fantastic, is another part of what makes this album great. Even if she’s singing about things that she’s yet to actually go through herself, she can still make herself sound totally believable.
Stacie Orrico last released an album over a decade ago; and that album was called “Beautiful Awakening.” Considering that Stacie’s prior albums had been mostly Christian music though, I was excited that with “Beautiful Awakening” she was showing the world that Christian music artists can indeed cross over and be successful in the mainstream music scene. Throughout this particular album, Stacie Orrico also shows that she’s matured a bit; one song on this album is about teen pregnancy. The song is called “Babygirl” and it talks about how teen pregnancy is not a bad thing, by default. This song is meant to empower teenage moms, and even though I’m never going to become a parent myself, this particular song is definitely one I’d want to here, if I were going to be a parent. There’s another song on this album called “So Simple” which I can really relate to. This particular song talks about how Stacie Orrico enjoys having a life that’s straightforward. And even though this is quite an idealistic song, and even though life is never easy, no matter who we are, the song’s sentiment can be nice/comforting nonetheless. There’s also a song on this album called “Is It Me” that I can really relate to. What this song is about, is Stacie Orrico realizing that she’s an independent person…and she’s wondering aloud if she’s the reason why her romantic relationships with men never work out the way she’d wanted them to. And I definitely feel that in my own life, I still say that this song “Is It Me” very much applies to my ultimately being single. But all that being said, it’s great that someone like Stacie Orrico is willing to send helpful messages like these into the world, as there are so many harmful messages that the world gives us, no matter who we are. There’s also a song on this album where Stacie talks openly about someone cheating on her; and yet there are other songs where she talks about learning to embrace her independence as a young woman. This entire album has song beats that are R&B heavy, and all of Stacie’s harmonies with herself/her singing overall, are lovely. There’s a song on this album called “Wait” that’s one of my favorite songs. Its beat sounds kinda Gospel-oriented, though it talks about how Stacie Orrico seems like she’s willing to preserve an unhealthy relationship that she’s in, just because she’s had good times with a person. There’s also a song on this album called “I Can’t Give It Up” which is about Stacie wanting to experience sex…but then deciding that she ultimately wants more committment from a man, before she gives into her body’s desires. So all in all, there isn’t a song on this album that I don’t love. And if we never get any music from Stacie in the future, I’ll be content knowing that this album was her last full music release.
Stacie Orrico has an EP that’s called “Christmas Wish.” And honestly, I’m kinda disappointed that this body of music of hers isn’t longer, as the entire thing is beautifully done. My favorite song on it would have to be “Oh Holy Night” as that particular song was one of the first ones I’d heard Stacie sing with a powerful voice. The other song on this EP that Stacie showed her powerful voice in, was the title track “Christmas Wish.” When this EP first came out though, I can vividly remember that something set off my biological mom…and my punishment was her taking this EP away from me. This was a punishment for me because it was no secret that Stacie Orrico was one of my favorite artists at the time. I cried for at least part of that night.
The pop-singer known as Alessia Cara has an EP entitled “This Summer” that I think now is a perfect time to review, given that it’s summertime where I currently live. “Rooting for You” is a song that has a fun-sounding beat and an occasional saxophone playing too. I bring up the saxophone specifically because I love it when artists whose music I love, incorporate that particular instrument into their music. And TBH, I think my love for saxophones all started when I heard Alexandra Stan use saxophones in the dance beats that she creates in her music. But going back to Alessia Cara’s EP: in the song “Rooting for You,” Cara sings about how she totally supported someone who’d let her down, in the end. “Like You” is a song in which Alessia Cara confidently yet playfully tells a love interest that she’s the best partner that they could ever have. I can relate to this song myself, as any time I’ve dated people, I’ve thought similarly about myself being the best dating option ever. LOL. “Ready” is a song in which Alessia Cara bluntly tells a potential love interest that it’s obvious to her that he’s too immature to be in a romantic relationship with her. This song makes me think of how some people who have been romantically interested in me, were actually people who most likely would’ve been too high maintenance for my liking. The song on this EP called “Okay Okay” is my favorite song on this body of work. It’s an upbeat-sounding song that shows Alessia Cara’s confidence in her young self…which is something that I’m envious of because I was the opposite of confident, at that age. LOL. In the song entitled “October,” Alessia Cara sings about how she doesn’t want the summertime to end; but when I hear this song, I also think about how the month of October is my favorite month, mostly because it’s fall, my favorite season. In the song “What’s on Your Mind,” Alessia Cara sings to a partner about how she needs for them to be honest with her about how they’re feeling, as she is not a mindreader. This song’s beat is a happy, up-tempo one that just has such fun energy in it. All in all, I’ve loved Alessia Cara’s singing voice ever since I’ve heard it. It’s a cross between being soft yet raspy…and at some points in her music, she even holds out notes which sounds really pretty. Her singing voice is definitely one that I’m excited to hear develop as she gets older.
Mya released an EP called “Love Elevation Suite.” This EP was one of the first EPs that I’d heard of Mya’s and I loved its contents right away. I love the EP’s intro which also happens to be its title track, as it shows Mya speaking and singing in Spanish in a sensual manner. This intro shows her talking about how the physical part of being in a relationship with someone can be difficult, if you want to get to know that person more, before you get physical with them. And honestly, I applaud Mya for having this attitude, as I could not imagine depriving myself of sex when I’m in a romantic relationship with someone…or for any reason, really. The next song called “Patience” also talks about waiting to have sex with someone you’re in a romantic relationship with. In addition to these songs though, Mya’s harmonies with herself are beautiful, on every song. And after this EP’s intro is finished, the transition into the next song is soothing. But I’d say that my favorite song on this EP, is the one called “Space” and it features a rapper named AGuyNamedCliff. It’s beat is mid-tempo I’d say, and it’s just a really fun song to listen to.
Another EP by Mya, is called “With Love;” and the first track on it is Mya’s solo version of her song “Space.” I love Mya’s harmonies with herself, along with this song’s relaxing yet pop-oriented beat. But I also love this song for the way in which it talks about an aspect of being romantically in love with someone; but the way it does this is quite creative, in that Mya metaphorically sings about having one’s head high above ground. But another song on this EP that I love, is one called “Like A Woman.” It’s an acoustic song, and it’s a real treat to hear Mya singing with just her backup harmonies and a guitar played in the song. Honestly, I kinda wish that Mya would release more acoustic songs–her soft voice sounds really good with that kinda instrumentation. The next song on this EP is called “House Party” and it’s another of my favorite tracks on this EP. The subject matter that Mya talks about in it, is having some alone time with someone she’s sexual with. I love how in the song, she playfully tells her man that she’s down to cancel whatever plans she’d previously made, so that the two of them can spend time together. Her assertiveness is attractive. But the last song on this EP, is called “Do It.” And this is also a song that’s explicitly about people having sex with each other. Mya is telling a man in detail how exactly she plans to take care of him sexually. It’s definitely one of my favorite Mya songs of all-time.
Mya also released an EP called “Sweet 16.” But before I talk about this work of musical art of hers, I want to put a note here for screen reader users: this EP’s title is actually written using Roman numerals. But the reason I’ve written it here using actual numbers, is because I want to make sure that the title comes across clearly to people who use screen readers. So if you want to look this EP up, try to remember that it’s written here differently on purpose. But anyway, one of my favorite songs on this body of work of Mya’s, is a song called “Same Page” which features someone named Eric Bellinger. The song has an R&B beat and talks about how couples who are romanticallly involved with each other can also have hard times in their relationships. I like this song for its honesty, as it goes somewhere that not many people go musically, in terms of its subject matter. But another song on this EP that stands out to me, is one that’s called “Right Now.” This song illustrates that Mya can do grownup things like have sex, when she wants to, totally on her terms. I love the confidence that this song portrays in Mya and I can relate to being this way myself. Because for me, I’ll only have sex on terms that I’m totally comfortable with. Another song on this EP called “M-O-N-E-Y” displays Mya’s confidence…but this time, it displays her confidence in terms of her being a woman who’s self-assured/who doesn’t need a man to make her a successful human being. This sort of mind-set is one that I can definitely relate to. But the last song on this EP is called “Unbreakable.” It features a rapper named Mike Check and talks about how throughout her life, Mya has gone through lots of trials and tribulations…yet she’s resilient. I can relate to this song a great deal myself, as the same thing has been true in my own life. It’s an upbeat song and honestly, it’s also an awesome way to finish out this EP.
Mya has an album entitled “T.K.O, The Knock Out.” Most of this album’s songs are about the fact that Mya wants to find a man to spend her life with. One of my favorite tracks on this album is called “Ready (Part 3, 90’s Bedroom Mix). It’s a sexy song in which Mya sings about how she’s anticipating having an enjoyable sexual time with a man. I can definitely relate to this song myself, as I think that sex is literally one of the best things on Planet Earth. Another song on this album that I love, is called “Ready for Whatever 2.0. This song has a slow R&B vibe to it, but Mya’s overall vocals make it fun to listen to. There’s another song called “You Got Me.” Its beat is a slow yet sexy R&B-sound that, combined with Mya’s vocals, sounds as close to heaven as I’ll ever get. In the song, Mya talks about how she’s hooked on a man but at the same time, how she knows that they both have to take care of other things in their lives. This is a favorite song of mine for its sound, but also, for its honesty; because there are many songs about lovey dovey stuff…and I’m not into all of that. There’s another track on this album called “The Fall.” This particular song is a remake of Mya’s song entitled “Fallen” and honestly, this remake is fucking fire!! Like, along with Mya’s soaring vocals, there’s a bassline in the song’s background that adds so much to the beauty of the song. And I honestly don’t think that this song would sound as awesome, if its bassline were not present. “With You” featuring MyGuyMars) is another stand-out track on this album. This song has a ballad kinda feel to it, though Mya is not a singer who has a strong voice persay. “Simple Things” is a great song in which Mya asserts that she’d rather spend quality time with a man, than have him buy her expensive things or otherwise think that she’s high-maintenance. In the song entitled “Down,” Mya sings with a bit of a Jamaican accent; but the song is fun and upbeat. She just wants to know if a man is truly serious about dating her or not.
Mya has a mixtape that’s called “Beauty and the Streets.” It’s an awesome body of work, where she enlists the help of different rappers, and even raps throughout this mixtape herself. One of the stand-out tracks on it is called “Black Out” in which Mya assures a man that if he gets physically violent towards her, she’ll take matters into her own hands, in a way that lets him know that he’s messed with the wrong person. “Show Me Something” featuring Bun B is a medium-tempo song where Mya tells a man that she thinks confidence is sexy, even in a man. At the beginning of a song called “Manaholic,” Mya introduces herself and then there’s a chorus of women saying “Hi, Mya,” similarly to the way Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has people introduce themselves at AA meetings. Though I’m not crazy about men like Mya is, I do love this song’s upbeat vibe and the sultry way that Mya raps throughout it. The song “I’m Back” featuring Slim Thug is Mya explaining to the world that she’s finally ready to speak up for herself, when it comes to the music she puts out. It’s one of my favorite tracks on this mixtape. The song “Boss” featuring Z-Ro is Mya singing in a sensual way, assuring her man that she wants to preserve their relationship. “Full Service” featuring Trae is a song where Mya tells her man that she intends to be his everything. And while I don’t agree with the idea that one person can be someone’s everything, this song is one of my favorite ones on this mixtape. “Control Freak” featuring Gator Mane is a song in which Mya assertively tells her man that she wants to be the dominant one in the bedroom. That is soooo fucking hot to me; but as far as I know, Mya is heterosexual. In a song called “Go Hard or Go Home,” Mya honestly tells her man that if he isn’t totally into her then the two of them can’t be sexual with one another. And while I don’t agree with the everything or nothing philosophy, I do love this song. Mya’s rap in it is fire. In the song “Ponytail” featuring Nicki Minaj, Mya talks about how she wants her man to make her yell in the bedroom. She also talks about how she wants him to pull her hair. Now those two things, I can relate to. I love both of those things myself; yelling and hair-pulling. “About My B.I” featuring Shawty Lo is a slow song, where Shawty Lo and Mya both tell each other that their business is just that, their business.
Christina Milian has an EP called “For You.” But before I talk about it, I want to put a note here for screen reader users. The way I’ve written the name of this EP is different from how it’s written on Apple Music. Screen reader programs don’t tend to correctly pronounce numbers with letters attached to them. So I’ve taken the liberty to make this EP’s name easily understandable to screen reading programs. But now to the EP: the first song that I love is called “Do It”” and it features Lil Wayne. It has an up-tempo beat and Christina Milian’s voice is a bit auto-tuned…but overall, the song is playful yet sexual. Another song that I love on this EP, is called “Rebel.” It’s a song with a slow beat in which Christina Milian tells someone that she wants to fuck them…no matter what the rules may be. In a song entitled “Liar,” Christina Milian calls out her man for lying to her about using protection during sex. This song has a slow beat and her voice fits it perfectly. The last song on this EP is called “Like Me” and it features Snoop Dogg. The song is about Christina Milian being confident that she’s the best lover a man could have; and she sings over a kinda fast-tempo R&B beat that makes you want to dance.
The first song on Kehlani’s album “It Was Good Until It Wasn’t” that came up when I shuffled it, was the one called “Hate the Club” featuring someone who goes by Masego. This song is honestly my least favorite song on this entire album. It has a slow beat which I guess, now that I think of it, does totally fit the song. And while I do love Kehlani’s voice in the song overall, I can’t say much else good about it. But one of my favorite songs on this album, is called “Serial Lover.” It’s an upbeat song in which Kehlani displays her confidence about what a great lover she is. Hearing this song definitely does make me wish I could know that for myself; LOL. The song “Change Your Life” featuring Jhené Aiko shows these two women singers fantasizing about what it would be like to experience the wide array of things with a lover, from traveling with each other, to just being a huge part of each other’s lives. This song too, makes me want to know firsthand what being a lover of Kehlani’s is/would be like. The next song entitled “Everybody Business” is about Kehlani letting people know that she’s trying not to let the negative things people say about her, have an impact on how she moves through the world. Given that Kehlani is in her mid-20s, I think this song’s message is perfect for her. The next couple of songs are mashed into being one song, I guess is how I’d say that. So the first part of this song is called “Open” and its beat is mid-tempo. Throughout this song, Kehlani asks a partner of hers if they think she’s too honest for their liking. Her harmonies on it sound beautiful. And on the song “Passionate” that’s looped in with the song I’ve just talked about, this particular song’s beat has a fast tempo though, and is about Kehlani talking about how she and a lover are in a car together…and how even though she knows they might get caught having sex, she still wants the two of them to satisfy one another sexually. The song entitled “F&MU (Fuck and Make Up)” is about how Kehlani and a lover get into fights with each other; but yet they also have sex with one another that’s amazing. In the song “Grieving” featuring James Blake, these two people sing about how a relationship they’re in is toxic. Kehlani samples a White Stripes song as this song’s beat which I love. And also, she and James Blake just sound great together. Next is an interlude in which a few people talk shit about how Kehlani puts her business out on social media. This interlude is called “Belong to the Streets” which I think fits this skit perfectly. The next song on this album, is called “Can You Blame Me” and it features someone who goes by Lucky Daye. Both Lucky Daye and Kehlani sing to one another about how they’re each struggling in a relationship…and how each of them feels like they are justified in feeling the way they do. Next there’s an interlude called “Hot Girl” in which a woman speaks very fast, talking about how good her pussy tastes. LOL. It’s kinda funny to me to hear that in an interlude, because the way it was done here on this album, was just unexpected. In the song “Bad News,” Kehlani sings about how she’ll be loyal to someone through the good and the bad times. This song’s beat is mid-tempo and her harmonies with herself are lovely. In the song “Toxic,” Kehlani sings over a slow beat, about how someone she’d dated was horrible for her. She gives details regarding how she’d sacrificed parts of herself, just to try and be the person that her partner wanted her to be. I can totally relate to this song, as I’ve definitely been in relationships with people who were awful for me. In fact, literally all of my romantic relationships were with folks that were not good for me, in any way. But also in this song “Toxic,” Kehlani references at least one kind of liquor…and the only reason I know that, is because I Googled it!! I’m not a drinker, and it sounded like it could make sense that Kehlani was mentioning specific people. LOL. The song “Water” is one of my favorite songs on this album; it starts off with a piano only…and then it goes into an R&B beat that hooks the listeners to it. My only complaint about this song, is that it’s too fucking short!! Actually, come to think of it, there are several songs on this album that I think are way too short!! But lastly, the song called “Can I” featuring Tory Lanez is another one of my favorite songs on this album. It’s R&B beat is one of the best beats I think I’ve ever heard. Kehlani’s and Tory Lanez’s harmonies with each other are also bomb. Hell, in the chorus of this song, Kehlani even sings part of an Aaliyah song. The way that sounds in particular though, is angelic. It was a nice surprise to my ears, the first time I’d heard it…and every time I’ve listened to it since then.
The first song that came up on Kehlani’s album called “You Should Be Here,” is her duet with Chance the Rapper. The song is called “The Way” and it’s literally the very first Kehlani song I ever heard. In factt, I know exactly where I was when I heard it: at a bus stop waiting for my ride at school; someone was listening to this song on whatever their choice of technology was for that day. “The Way” is a song about how smitten Kehlani is with her love interest–Chance the Rapper’s verse in this song is fire–he and Kehlani really do sound good together. In the song called “The Letter,” Kehlani talks about her tumultuous relationship with her mom. Kehlani is backed by only a piano in this song and that sounds beautiful. The way that she’s so vulnerable throughout this song, makes this one of my favorite songs on this album. But I can also relate to this song, as there was a time in my own life when I was going through issues that stemmed from my biological mom/others in my family of origin. At one point, it was hard for me to even listen to this song. But another song that stands out to me on this album, is the title track “You Should Be Here” which sounds like it’s about how Kehlani feels like a partner that she’s in a relationship with, has become distant. This is yet another song that’s relatable to me. Next, an interlude entitled “Runnin'” which is about how Kehlani has always wanted to be a recording artist/how as a woman, she’s always on the go. I love this interlude for its honesty, but also because it’s important work to show that you’re making it as a woman, especially in a world that tries to silence you every chance it gets. Yet another song on this album is called “Bright;” this song seems like it’s meant to empower people to be who they are…and also to be in love with who they are. And this sort of message is one that doesn’t get told enough, in my opinion. Another song I love on this album is called “Wanted.” In it, Kehlani is talking about how a relationship she’s in with a man, this man treats her better than other men have in her past. I can relate to this idea, in the sense that each time I’ve dated a man, I’d feel like whomever I was with at any given time, would be the relationship that would last. And not surprisingly, I was wrong every time. LOL. In another song called “Alive” featuring Coucheron, Kehlani sings about how great she feels to be here on earth. This song’s beat is kinda pop-sounding, with a mid-tempo. I can definitely relate to feeling the lyrics in this song myself, from time-to-time. “Jealous” featuring Lexii Alijai is the next song that comes up on this album. Lexii Alijai happens to be one of Kehlani’s friends who raps. In this song, Kehlani and Lexii Alijai sing/rap about how a person they’re with seems to want them all to themselves. “Jealous” has a slow beat which I feel fits the song. The next song that comes up on this album, is called “Down For You” featuring BJ the Chicago Kid. It’s about him and Kehlani letting each other know that they’ll each be there for the other person, no matter what. The song is a nice sentiment, but people come and go from our lives on a regular basis…so it can become toxic for those involved to promise forever to each other. “Yet” is a song in which Kehlani tells people how she used to do whatever she could, hoping that someone would recognize her singing talent. She also talks in this song about how she’s become confident in her talent. This is attractive to me. “How That Taste” is a song about how Kehlani knows she has haters…but how at the same time, she also knows that her haters are keeping her name in their mouths. I can relate to this song myself, for sure. In the “Intro” to this album, we hear a phone call from Kehlani’s grandfather. And after that phone call has ended, Kehlani gives a moving tribute to anyone in her life who’s meant something to her/who listens to her music and finds it helpful. At the very end of this intro, Kehlani says the words “you should be here” which is a reference to the title of this album. I really love the way that that particular part is put together. In the song called “Unconditional,” Kehlani sings about how she wants to be loved unconditionally; this song is something that I’m sure many people find relatable. But personally, I think it’s best to love oneself unconditionally, rather than hoping that at some point, others will do so.
The first song that came up on Kehlani’s “SweetSexySavage” album, is a song called “Keep On.” This song is about how someone Kehlani is with, complains about her and then continually stays with her. It sounds like a weird dynamic, for sure. That being said, the beat of “Keep On” is a fairly mellow R&B tune. The next song that comes up on this album, is one called “Too Much” that also has a mellow beat. This song is about how Kehlani recognizes that there are people in the world who are most likely threatened by her success as a woman and as a singer. While I’m not famous and hopefully never will be, I can say that I can relate to knowing that there are people in the world who cannot stand my outspokenness as a woman. The next song that comes up on this album, is one called “Distraction” in which Kehlani tells a potential love interest that she’d love for them to pay more attention to her. Its beat is a slow one, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. The song called “Get Like” is a song in which Kehlani talks about how a certain person makes her respond sexually, in a way that she seems proud of. The beat of “Get Like” is pretty mellow as well. The next song is called “Advice” and it shows Kehlani seeming confused about how a man she loves, can leave her feeling so unsure of their relationship. The beat of this song is also mellow. “Undercover” is a song that has a pretty fast tempo and in which Kehlani uses a beat that’s a sample of an Akon song. She uses this Akon sample/chorus to sing about how she knows that people don’t want to see her with a certain person…yet she’s going to continue being with them. This song is really well done; I was surprised when I’d heard it for the first time, TBH. There are also a few songs on this album that are either about Kehlani sharing that she doesn’t believe she’s worthy of receiving love, or that she flat out isn’t used to being treated well by someone she’s romantically involved with. Those particular topics are definitely ones that I can relate to. On the track called “Wanna Be,” Kehlani tells the person she’s with that she wants to do whatever it takes to keep them around long-term. And while I don’t agree with the sexiness of being with one person forever, I do love the beat of this song…it’s very fast and happy-sounding. “Thank You” is a track where Kehlani talks about how she’s glad to have people who support her in her life. I can very much relate to that feeling myself.
Jaci Velasquez “Love Out Loud (LOL)” is one of Jaci’s albums that has some mainstream songs on it. But even in some of the songs that were Christian/God-specific on this album, there were powerful life messages I still found applicable to my life. Although, let me stop right there for a second, to say that it’s been a real journey for me as an atheist who grew up listening to Christian music that yes, I still love to this day. It’s been quite the journey for me though, because in my young adulthood, as the staunch atheist that I was, I went back and forth between feeling like I could listen to the Christian music that I grew up with…and then feeling like doing that would somehow be seen as a crime. And I seriously went back and forth on this very thing with myself for years! But thankfully as I’ve gotten older, as I’ve thought about this constantly and become truly confident in my own skin, it’s on other people if they judge me harshly for listening to good music. Because the thing about good music, is that it doesn’t require anyone to believe in a specific mind-set or a specific way of life; all it requires, is that people listen to it. Period!! And so yes, even as a staunch atheist, I do listen to Christian music that I grew up listening to. And I’m comfortable in the fact that nowadays, it’s easy for me to take what I love out of the music-listening equation…and to discard what I don’t like or agree with. Because I’m also self-aware enough to have the language to articulate what I find problematic about religious music of any kind…and why I find religious music of any kind problematic. Bet you all didn’t think that this music review of mine would get this personal, did you? LOL.
But going back to the songs on this Jaci Velasquez album called “Love Out Loud (LOL”): the title track on this album has a powerful message for us human beings to take from it, whether we’re religious or not. What I mean by that, is that if we’d all let our actions show people what it means to be a loving person through and through, that particular gesture alone would change the world for the better. No higher power required. In the song “Nothing But Sky,” I love this song’s message of us as human beings taking what we learn throughout our lives and using those things to ultimately help ourselves become better people. This is sexy to me because if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of personal growth, both in actively doing it myself and watching it in others. So whenever I hear the song “Nothing But Sky,” I think of how my world has literally become so much more open, now that I’m living my life like the sky truly is the limit. Like, I certainly do have the physical and emotional scars to attest to what a largely shitty life I’ve had. However I also am the type of person who bounces back from things, no matter how shitty those things might be at any given time. One of my favorite songs on this album is called “Tango” and it’s about how in a romantic relationship that Jaci is in, she’s typically the person who likes to talk things out so that everything can be out on the metaphoric table. But this song also signifies that Jaci’s man likes to keep things between the two of them as diplomatic as possible. I can totally relate to this song, as I too, am the kinda person who’d rather lay everything out on the metaphoric table so to speak. But also, I’ve dated people who thought that being diplomatic was always the answer to reconnecting after things had gotten heated. In a song called “A Likely Story,” Jaci sings about how there was a point in time where she didn’t feel like she was worthy of receiving her husband’s love. But some of this song’s language is problematic in my opinion, because Jaci talks about how her husband’s possessiveness over her is attractive to her. Being the feminist that I am though, I’m all for people’s individuality being seen, even if they are in a serious relationship with someone. In the song entitled “It’s Not You, It’s Me,” Jaci Velasquez sings about having a tough relationship with someone…and about how eventually she realized that she was the person who needed to change the way she viewed this situation. This song definitely resonates with me, especially when I think of the fact that for years, I desperately wanted my biological mom’s behavior to change into something that would allow her and I to have what I thought a mother-daughter relationship should look like. But then ultimately I figured out that instead of hoping for something that would never come, it would be helpful for my life if I changed how I thought of her/or how I thought of hers and my relationship with each other. And honestly, that attitude shift in myself has been what’s helped me accept the reality of this particular situation: that my biological mom will never be who I’d wanted her to be…because she literally is not capable of doing so. That particular thought also freed me from this invisible figurative prison that I was in for so long.
Jaci Velasquez “Unspoken” is another Jaci album that has some mainstream songs on it. One such song is called “Your Friend” and in it, Jaci sings about how she loves being someone’s friend; its beat is kinda mid-tempo, I’d say. But then the part of this song that totally throws me off, is when Jaci says something about how no human being is as great a friend as Jesus is. But now that I think of it, maybe she’s right: my friends are not invisible and controlling, the way that people describe Jesus to be. In the upbeat song entitled “The Real Me,” Jaci talks about how people can tend to view her as being superhuman or something, just because she’s a talented singer…but this song’s message is that ultimately, she’s a person just like we are. A song entitled “Jesus Is” has a mellow vibe to it. But I think that if part of this song could be re-written, it should say ‘Jesus is, the only one not in my hole.’ That phrase change of mine fits perfectly with where that would actually go in Jaci Velasquez’s original song. Try it out and see for yourself. LOL. In the song called “Something,” Jaci sings about a breakup she had with a man…and in this song, she questions whether she really meant anything to him. I can relate to feeling this way, in romantic relationships that I’ve been in. The song “Shine” has a really pretty mid-tempo beat and Jaci has a beautiful choir singing backup throughout this song too. So this song’s message is really empowering to people. What I take this song to mean, is that no matter who we are, we each have the power to shine brightly. This song is particularly meaningful to me, as I believe that life is never a competition about who’s living the best life. Like, especially in today’s culture, people can get caught up comparing themselves…and so it can be helpful to hear a song like this as a reminder of the reality that each human being has valuable things to offer the world. There’s a song on this album called “Glass House” in which Jaci Velasquez sings about how judging others in a negative way is not a way to go through life. And honestly, I agree with that sentiment, minus the part where God is added into the equation. Because unfortunately, I’ve known more Christians in particular throughout my life, who constantly criticize things from who people love, to how people dress, to people’s gender identity. And I don’t get why people judge others so harshly, as I’m pretty sure that if their invisible skydaddy did exist, he/she/it would voice strong rejection to such treatment happening. Because honestly, it doesn’t take ascribing to some religion to mean that folks have a moral compass. The song “He” has a latin vibe to it which I absolutely love. It’s a damn shame that its lyrical content leaves a lot to be desired, though. I mean, Jaci’s vocals on it sound amazing to my ears; everything from her harmonies with herself, to the overall way in which her voice flows so smoothly, just makes this a pleasant song to listen to.
Jaci Velasquez “Beauty Has Grace” is hands down my favorite album of Jaci’s. And from what I’ve read/heard Jaci say in interviews, this is also her favorite album that she’s recorded. Now, as I’ve said in my other album reviews of her music, I can’t relate to most of her lyrical content; so please keep that in mind here. The reason that this particular album of Jaci Velasquez is my favorite album of hers, is because she made music on it that made her feel good; she wasn’t the least bit concerned with what anyone else wanted from her, musically or personally. And while in the Christian music market, that sort of thing gets a bad rap, I actually love that Jaci did exactly what she wanted to, where this album was concerned. The song “Something Beautiful” is a rock-sounding song in which Jaci’s voice is soft, raspy and strong throughout the song. It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks on this album, for sure. “Lay It Down” is a ballad which is one of my favorite things about that song. Because typically, Jaci Velasquez is not the type of singer who holds out notes, the way other singers can often do. “Supernatural” is a slow song, though it isn’t one of my favorite tracks on the album. Jaci’s harmonies with herself sound lovely though, and I like that she’s singing about the demon that is depression. I feel like depression, love from human beings ETC, are real and important things to sing about, whether someone sings religious music or not. The song “When You Hold Me” has a mid-tempo beat, I’d say; and throughout this song, Jaci’s voice would be raspy/sometimes screechy. I don’t know the technical term for the way that Jaci’s voice was altered here or in other songs on this album. “With All My Soul” has a mid-tempo beat and shows Jaci’s voice in a different light yet again. In this song though, her voice is pretty breathy/soft…and I love that affect. In the song “I’m Not Looking Down,” Jaci sings about how she’s gone through depression; yet she’s on the other side of it now…and she’s ready to continue moving forward. I love this song’s message, as it’s one that we don’t hear about as much as we should. In “Tonight,” Jaci sings with a man. But for whatever reason, the album doesn’t say the guy’s name, the way it usually does when people are featured on each other’s music. But “Tonight” is an up-tempo song in which Jaci’s voice sounds soft, breathy and raspy throughout this song. And honestly, I’m pretty sure that for this entire album, Jaci and the folks who helped her produce this album, were intentional about this different sound in her voice. In “Prayer To Love,” a slower tempo song, Jaci sings mostly soft. But there’s this tone to her voice throughout this song that’s refreshing to listen to. In the song “This Love,” Jaci’s voice was soft yet raspy at the same time. This song’s beat was slow, I’d say…but Jaci’s harmonies with herself were beautiful. The song “Reason To Believe” has a mid-tempo beat and throughout this song, Jaci’s voice goes from raspy, to soft. But also when I hear this song, it makes me think of how we all want or hope to have things to believe in. Yes I’m an atheist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in anything or anyone. In fact, I believe in not only myself, but also in the general goodness of most other human beings. I believe in the people who are a part of my medical team currently, and in the future. I believe that I will always make the best decisions for my life, no matter how difficult that may be, at times. I believe in any partners I may have in my future; I believe that they will have my best interest at heart and I will believe them when they show/say that they love me. I believe that I will continue to act with integrity; because it is also my belief that religion is not what makes us have a moral compass. In short, I’m living proof that you can indeed be good without God.