The First Impression series is where we review new albums in just one take. Going track-by-track, we break down the entire project and rate it because we all know first impressions mean everything.
lately I feel EVERYTHING, "is a musical expression of trying to perceive both joy and pain through an equally compassionate and playful lens,” says singer, songwriter, and musician Willow Smith. WILLOW's previously released tracks "Lipstick," and "t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l" featuring blink-182 drummer Travis Barker had already wowed eager fans with her new sound and since its release, "t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l" has been streamed over 36 million times marking WILLOW’s first Hot 100 accomplishment. Now, with the official album drop, fans have been treated to the highly-anticipated new single "G R O W" featuring Avril Lavigne and once again, Travis Barker. But we've got a few tracks to discuss before we get to that bombshell...
WILLOW's perfectly produced, harmony-heavy "t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l" featuring Travis Barker leads off the album, giving us our first taste of her pop-punk side that has proved inspirational since her pre-teen years. The singer drops the excitement down on the next track "F**K YOU" which at just 36 seconds serves as a sort-of early intermission.
WILLOW picks up the pace again with Travis on the third song, "Gaslight" which feels like a sped-up, punk version of some of the '90s' best shoegaze anthems with its playful chords and vocals.
The album's next two tracks veer into opposing directions; in less than two minutes "don't SAVE ME" transforms from a down-tempo groove reminiscent of Sky Ferreira's Night Time, My Time before opening up into a wide heavy metal soundscape. WILLOW's guitar-heavy "naïve" follows in a similar, rock-ballad fashion, with her impressive vocal range on full display.
The previously released "Lipstick" follows, continuing the slowed down, rock-infused groove allowing her musicianship (WILLOW plays guitar throughout the record) as well as her vocals to shine through.
Along with the inclusion of new music with Avril and Trav, the 11-track album also features previously unreleased collabs -- the first of which comes next featuring Ayla Tesler-Mabe. "Come Home" keeps the record's emotional rollercoaster in its valley of slow jams as we reach the mid-point, this one taking on more of a '50s swing feel while crushing guitars add punctuation. The following track "4ever" keeps the mood in place with a mixture of WILLOW's R&B and rock sides colliding behind her flowing vocals. "XTRA" her collaboration with Tierra Wack continues that sentiment with production and vocals featured front and center.
Up next is "G R O W" -- the album's latest single and a track that everyone has been waiting for since WILLOW announced she'd be working with one of her longtime Pop-punk icons. "Avril inspired me so much when I was younger, inspired my taste in music, inspired my femme-rock star inspiration," WILLOW told us of this epic collaboration with Avril Lavigne and Travis Barker.
Closing out the record is WILLOW's rockin' jam with L.A. noise-rock band Cherry Glazerr, "¡BREAKOUT!" -- an arena shaking, profanity-laced number that will surely leave your speakers smoking after this half-hour of pure power from WILLOW and company.
WILLOW's lately I feel EVERYTHING is out now!