WILLOW - ALBUM REVIEW
Updated: Oct 12, 2019
Eighteen-year-old Californian born songstress ‘Willow’ has released her eponymously named third studio album with MSFTS Music and Roc Nation this month following 2015s ‘Ardipithicus’ and 2017s ‘The 1st’. Willow continues to keep proving her acumen by diverging into a unique, soulfully psychedelic direction on this ethereal eight-track project co-produced by Tyler Cole.
Thematically the track subjects range from topics such as female empowerment, relationships, the feeling of being born in the wrong generation, religion and mythology. On first impression the genre choice is rather anomalous, displaying subtle elements of Psychedelic, Shoe-Gaze, Pop, and R&B. Willows vision and individuality shine through despite the change in sound and its delivery comes across genuine and educated rather than gimmicky. Differently to most albums today, the project is more of a sonic experience (rather than a collection of hits) that immerses the listener in a dreamy, atmospheric cloud of lush reverb-heavy electric guitars, unusual harmonies and minimal beats which slowly fuse as the album meanders on.
Lyrically ‘WILLOW’ is poetic and somewhat vague, there isn't much content to cling onto and it's instead about enjoying the ambient moods created rather than memorising all the words. The development of Willows vocal ability is also very evident on this album as she gets rangier than ever before with powerful and uncontrollable melodic bursts reminiscent of the likes of Janis Joplin and Erykah Badu.
The album begins with the equally beautiful and strange ‘Like A Bird’ which features Willow singing a pretty yet haunting melody over a repetitive arpeggiated sixties sounding guitar part, similar to something from Lana Del Rey’s ‘Ultraviolence’ Era. The track pulls us into the dream-like world Willow has created just for us full of heavenly reverberation and divine harmonies.
The second track is a sequel to Willows 2014 freestyle 'Female Energy', Willow seems to be singing to a former love interest in this wistfully repetitive sounding track with some of the best and most honest lyrics and vocals on the album.
Oh, and I'm falling into the arms of naked truth,
Not surprised to see the sky and only think of you...
Track 3. 'Time Machine' is a sweet, nostalgic R&B style track evocative of peers such as SZA and Ravyn Lenae. Willow wishes she could go back in a time machine and hang out with the likes of Basquiat and Kurt Cobain, a truly 'Gen Z' anthem that suits the spacey vibe of the project very well.
Track 4. ’PrettyGirlz’ is seemingly about what society wants from girls vs. what Willow wants from girls. This sweet feminine appreciation track comes shortly after Willow discussed her Bisexuality on Red Table Talk with her mother Jada Pinkett Smith and grandmother Adrienne Banfield-Jones as-well-as how she would be open to a polyamorous relationship with a male and a female.
“I love men and women equally, and so I would definitely want one man, one woman. I feel like I could be polyfidelotous with those two people.” - Willow Smith
Track 5. 'Samo Is Now' and Track 6. 'then (interlude)' leads nicely onto Track 7. 'U KNOW feat. Jaden' which is, in my opinion, the most experimental and memorable track on the album production and harmony wise. The collaboration here keeps the listener engaged and it's great to see the camaraderie between siblings incorporating Jaden's Hip Hop style into the song.
Track 8. 'Overthinking IT' Ends the album with a more smooth and upbeat reggae feel leaving the listener feeling refreshed and clear-minded after digesting the unusually crafted melodies and instrumentals by Smith and Cole.
What are your thoughts on 'WILLOW'? Let us know in the comments down below.