Music I Want to Talk About: July 2021

Songs I Want to Talk About

“Bible Verses” by Blake Shelton (2021)

Some people might find it odd that I listen to full albums of big name artists that I don’t necessarily like. The reason why is because you occasionally stumble across masterpieces like “Bible Verses,” the final track of an otherwise pretty basic, predictable country album from Blake Shelton. I always love when artists outside the Christian rock space make songs about spirituality and this song is one of the reasons why.

“Bible Verses” as an introspective song about wanting to live a reverent, Christian life but also feeling like you’re so far away from that life that it’s out of reach. There’s something powerful about how you can hear the yearning in this song, yet its oddly calming and peaceful at the same time. There’s a complex tragedy in not even being able to find comfort in the Bible the way you want to because it’s such a far cry from your life as it currently exists. It feels so authentic, and nothing I’ve heard in either the country, folk, or Christian music realms has really clicked with me quite the same way.

“Ride a White Swan” by T. Rex (1971)

Apple TV did a docuseries called 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything which I quite enjoyed. There’s a clip of this song in that and it had this immediate hypnotizing quality. After the episode was over I had to go back and figure out what song it was and find the whole thing.

While I’d certainly heard of T.Rex before, I really only knew “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” and I didn’t really understand how they fit into larger music history and the particular pop/rock landscape of their heyday. This song certainly has a lot of that ’60s Beatles energy that was still lingering over the music landscape in 1971 yet it has somewhat of a rock swagger, that most of the Beatles’ poppier stuff never did.

What’s most interesting to me is how this song really doesn’t have much going for it besides that hypnotizing hook. Marc Bolan is an adequate, but not fantastic singer. The lyrics are nonsensical, and usually I’m a stickler about lyrics. I can’t really say I have a palpable emotional connection to it like I might with “Bible Verses” Yet it’s still a song I can play over and over again and never get tired of. I think it’s such an interesting case study for how if you have a really great hook, it can still be a great song, even even if on paper, it doesn’t seem like it would fit my tastes.

“Only for Tonight” by Pearl Charles (2021)

If you’ve read prior monthly music write ups, you know I’ve been yearning for more ’70s influence in pop music. Spotify heard me and introduced me to “Only for Tonight” by Pearl Charles. Abba is probably the most direct comparison. There’s that piano line in the mix reminiscent of “Dancing Queen” that’s almost too similar to be accidental. The song is dripping with fun and glamor giving it a kind of glitzy, dream-like quality. Yet there’s some subtle melancholy to the lyrics at the same time. The story is about a girl who wanted to think she was falling in love, but it was “only for tonight” and I think that interplay between bittersweet lyrics and the glamor and excess of is part of what makes the song fun.

Albums I Want to Talk About

NOTE: I had trouble getting WordPress to embed this album right, which I’m guessing is because it’s only been out for two days. Here’s the link:

Thirstier by TORRES (2021)

I went into the last weekend of July planning to do a writeup on the TORRES track “Don’t Go Puttin’ Wishes In My Head.” I’ve been rocking out to it all month long and it straddles the rock/pop line in all the ways that make me happy. Then, on July 30, the full album came out and within a couple listens I was like “well, I guess I have to write about the whole album.” I usually don’t like to do full album reviews, or even mini reviews until I’ve had more time to feel out an album, so please take me encouraging you to listen to it two days after it came out as a testament to how much I’m vibing it.

Thirstier has a strong ’90s grunge/alternative influences yet still feels modern. I absolutely LOVE the vocals here. For the most part TORRES uses this kind of low, bellowing voice very on brand for that ’90s rock sound she’s going for. Yet she also this very beautiful, angelic head voice and a great sense of how to play with those dynamics. On songs such as the title track, I get strong Alanis Morissette vibes yet at no point doe TORRES ever feel like a copycat of another act.

While ‘”90s alternative” is definitely the first sound that comes to mind here, there’s also enough experimentation with other sounds here to keep the album from becoming formulaic. I love how “Kiss the Corners” tosses you an ’80s-style synth hook late in the album to keep you on your toes. Right now, I don’t. know of another artist who is making quite this brand of rock much less doing it this well.

There Will Be Tears by VINCINT (2021)

There’s relatively few artists that excel at dance pop anthems that can also punch me in the gut and make me feel something. Basically, there’s Lady Gaga and Robyn and I was content knowing that likely no one else would ever join that pantheon. While it’s hard to put any artist on that level after just one album, There Will Be Tears by VINCINT certainly shows the potential is there. There’s great disco energy a la Gaga, but also fair amount of ’90s europop influences here too. Also much like Gaga, Vincint is an absolutely brilliant vocalist and not afraid to show it. Sad dance pop isn’t really easy to pull off, but my personal favorite track here, “What If” is among the greatest ever, again on the same level as Gaga or Robyn which I never really thought I’d say about anyone else. There Will Be Tears is a fantastic debut in its own right, yet it also feels like it’s full of untapped potential and I can’t wait to see what VINCINT does next.

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