That’s the Spirit!

Khalid Album Review

King County Parks Your Big Backyard

Marcus Roberts, Head Writer

Texas native singer-songwriter Khalid Donnel Robinson began recording his first album American Teen at the ripe age of 18. He sings about what he knows best: growing up. This Gucci addict’s use of the 80’s synth soul in his latest release assures us that his adolescent mind that we all know, and love is still fully intact.
I suppose we all have to grow up at some point, but for Khalid, two years of fame has caused him to grow up faster than anyone would have expected. Now, at age 21, Khalid just dropped his latest album Free Spirit on April 5th, 2019. I think it’s safe to say this album is a stunning switch in direction. In his previous album, Khalid conveyed the energy and happiness that his teenage years brought us. However, there seems to be more to the R&B pop artist than we thought. In recent interviews, Khalid confides that he often struggles mentally. Anxiety, panic attacks, and depression are normal parts of his day, and he admits it’s quite draining. In this album, Khalid stops covering up his real emotions, and cuts straight to the point. It feels as if he’s a new person, the epitome of an “opened book.”
The first song out of the seventeen, is titled “Intro.” This song comes in waves of harmonious vocals and hovering clouds of feedback. The muffled and slightly distorted chord progressions in the background sound as if they were played by Frank Ocean’s himself. The power and emotion in his voice sound extremely familiar as well. I think it’s safe to say that Post Malone’s iconic I Fall Apart may have influenced this song. As I said before, Khalid is now cutting straight to the point in his lyrics. Fans witness this when he sings, “I been focusing on putting me first, still could never see you with somebody else. I can’t even live with being by myself, that’s the part of me that really needs your help.”
Towards the middle of the album, Khalid collabs with 2000’s pop star, John Mayer on “Outta My Head.” In an interview, Khalid says that this track is his favorite from the album because of how great the timing was. Khalid was walking out of the studio when he ran into John Mayer. He then showed Mayer what he has been working on and bam, the unexpected duo killed it. In short, this song is Khalid’s passionate thoughts about a girl. She’s taking up his mind and driving him absolutely crazy. As he sings, the chorus, “Cause the days get brighter when you’re here, so I gotta keep you near. Goin’ crazy and I just can’t get you outta my head,” listeners are relieved that someone is keeping him hopeful when he has hard days.
The title-track “Free Spirit” is found on the second half of the album. Khalid states that, “’Free Spirit’, the title track, took me the longest to write. I’ve been holding on to that since May of last year and finished writing that song in February 2019.” I think anyone can agree that this song was well worth the wait. The song begins with a guitar part and autotune that sounds like something straight from the 80s. Thankfully, he hardly autotunes his voice, creating a nice contrast and fantasy feeling. This song lives up to its name and makes you want to run barefoot along the beach.
The final song, “Saturday Nights,” is a stellar way to draw the album to a close. It’s simple yet fulfilling. The opening guitar chords take the listener back to the Bieber era, but Khalid does it better without a doubt. The first verse in the last song goes, “Saturday nights, Newbury cigarillos swishers make my throat hurt. Rolling OCB’s on the side for me, light ’em up and let ’em both burn.” I think this is the perfect way to end his sophomore album because it hints that part of his bad teenage habits remain. This verse sounds like it should have been off his previous album, and that’s why his day one fans still support him today.
Free Spirit does exactly what a second album should do: It expands on what came before it while simultaneously opening new styles for the artist to take on in the future. As Free Spirit plays from beginning to end, the title becomes less of a label and more of a mission statement. Ultimately, Khalid Robinson is headed as far as the roads will take him and he’s gaining a larger fan base while holding onto his day ones along the way.

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