By Michael Cerio
Put the pumpkin down and check out these albums released today for New Music Friday.
Selena Gomez – Revival
Two years has been a lifetime for Selena Gomez. Since her solo debut she has fought tabloid and Twitter venom, BFF’d Taylor Swift, and has struggled with Lupus as we learned this week ( LINK: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2015/10/08/selena-gomez-lupus/ ). That would be a lot for anyone at any age, but for 23 year old Gomez she has channeled it into an empowered confident album.
Revival shows Gomez in control. “It’s my time to butterfly” she sings on the title track, emerging from negativity with a more forceful understood self. It’s a thread that runs through most of Revival, a snapshot of a woman who has not only gotten comfortable with herself, but in a lot of ways the concept of love and how she relates to it. Over the haunting sparse piano and snaps of “Same Old Love” she is jilted but “over it” and tired of the games. Gomez sees through drunken posturing on “Sober” and finds herself building something out of past mistakes on “Survivors”. It’s really an elevated take on romance that is less likely in pop music and should be applauded. Gomez seems to be seeing the game a bit clearer, all with a self-assured maturity that we haven’t seen this bright before.
It is all of this though that makes her single and album standout “Good For You” so perplexing. The song is a jam for sure – pulsating and sexy with Gomez sounding sultry and a great guest spot from A$AP Rocky – but lyrics like “Gonna wear that dress you like, skin-tight.” and “I just wanna look good for you. Let me show you how proud I am to be yours. Leave this dress a mess on the floor” play submissive and subservient. It’s a killer pop song, but juxtaposed against the rest of the album it’s disappointing. While this new Selena Gomez has emerged so powerful and without need of approval both musically and personally, a song about wanting to look good for someone else and dressing the way they want goes against message. Sure there are other songs along the way that play with sexuality, but in places like “Hands To Myself” and “Body Heat” Gomez owns it and is the aggressor, not an ornament to be objectified.
While “Good For You” feels like a misstep, it should not take away from this “butterfly” moment for Gomez. It is really great to see someone grow out of the Disney shadow into this sound. Beyond the message, the music has grown too. Everything sounds fuller and more atmospheric than previous efforts. It’s elaborate and layered where it needs to be on album bookends “Revival” and the inspirational call to arms of “Rise”, yet spotlights Gomez just right in songs like “Same Old Love”. Selena Gomez has separated herself from a pack of pop stars and has placed herself in a much more serious space.
R. City – What Dreams Are Made Of
Also out this week is the R. City debut What Dreams Are Made Of. At the intersection of Pop, Reggae, and Hip Hop, Caribbean brothers Timothy and Theron step out from writing for artists like Akon to roll out their own collection. You’ve already been singing that song “Locked Away” with Adam Levine all summer. Come for that, but stay for the rest of these island-tinged tunes. Also credit for the best Lenny Kravitz sample of the year on “Over”.
Jana Kramer – thirty one
Is it too late to fold the tailgate down one last time? Of course not! Jana Kramer is not only that girl from One Tree Hill (She played Alex), she also has a kicking Country album called thirty one out today. At age thirty one, Kramer’s brand of country features a couple of fun millennial flourishes. “Said No One Ever” reads like a hashtag twitter feed as she lists things nobody really wants, and she sounds more like Nelly than Carrie Underwood as she gets turnt in “Pop That Bottle”. The stand out here though is from someone a bit more…aged…then Twitter and the St. Lunatics. Steven Tyler joins in on the ode to breaking it off before marriage and dodging a bullet in “Bullet”. Crank it up and tell Chase Adams we’re having a party. (Three of you got that joke and you all likely have Chad Michael Murray screensavers)
Also check out new releases this week from Saintseneca, The Game, and Toby Keith.