Khalid – Free Spirit (2019)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 57:13 minutes | 624 MB | Genre: R&B
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Right Hand Music Group, LLC – RCA Records
Free Spirit is Khalid’s sophomore studio album following his break-out debut LP, American Teen, and his first EP Suncity, dedicated to his hometown of El Paso, Texas. The album is a harsh deviation from the safe and lyrically-upbeat compilation of songs from American Teen, enriched by heavier, darker, and wiser lyrical motifs.
The album features the lead single from Suncity, “Better,” as well as “Saturday Nights,” also featured on the EP. “Talk” was released as the lead single for Free Spirit as a microcosm of the album.
The album’s name, cover, and release date was announced alongside the release of “My Bad,” with the album’s third single, “Self,” releasing a week prior to the album’s official release. The album’s full tracklist was officially released two days before the album’s release alongside its final single, “Don’t Pretend.”
Two days prior to the album’s release, fans all around the world had the opportunity to hear the album by watching the ‘Free Spirit’ short film in select cinemas on April 3, 2019.
“Everybody wants a favor, everybody needs me,” Khalid exhaustedly grumbles on “Hundred,” a dispirited soft pop ballad placed in the middle of Free Spirit. Going by the unrelenting campaign to keep him in the spotlight since he hit with “Location,” the statement doesn’t seem all that hyperbolic. During the two years that passed between American Teen and Free Spirit, he took part in a decade’s worth of collaborations and stylistic crossovers, plus frequent touring amid nonstop promotional duties, all while earning five Grammy nominations and accumulating a stack of platinum certifications. As much as any other artist shot to fame on the brink of adulthood, Khalid could be forgiven for turning in a woeful post-fame album and checking out. “Hundred” isn’t the only song on which he vents. The downcast “Bad Luck” lashes out at parasitic behavior, and in a number of other songs, Khalid seeks escape from stifling situations, consumed by internal conflict, this close to swearing off all communication via WiFi for at least five minutes. These feelings aren’t unique to pop stars, and even though they make up a fair portion of Free Spirit, Khalid and his fellow songwriters never express them in such specific language that an everyday listener can’t relate. More than anything else, the album works through emotional struggles of early adulthood — from anguish over faltering relationships and insecurity about expressing grief, to yearning for a simple stolen moment beneath the bleachers. Consequently, Free Spirit is not illustrative as a title. In the song itself, the notion is merely aspirational and wistful, with Khalid vividly recalling, “We were drownin’ down our memories/A cemetery full of broken bottles, man, that liquor bleed.” Only the kind of thunderous “Heaven,” involving Father John Misty and a couple of his associates, sounds too heavy in sentiment, with Khalid aching, “Lord, there’s nothing for me left out here.” It adds unnecessary weight to an hour-long LP with little joy or even relief, one that is nearly static in energy level despite a carousel of producers — completely different than that of American Teen — featuring Murda Beatz, StarGate, Disclosure, and D’Mile. An upside is that Khalid’s voice is smoother, richer, and therefore more expressive here than it was on the debut. It’ll probably sound even better after a long-deserved break. ~ Andy Kellman
2 Bad Luck
3 My Bad
6 Right Back
7 Don’t Pretend feat. SAFE
10 Outta My Head with John Mayer
11 Free Spirit
12 Twenty One
17 Saturday Nights