put your records on: SZA

I’ve been waiting for this album since Z came out in 2014 and it does not dissapoint. Solana Rowe’s voice is honey sweet, but delivers biting lines such as “You could never trivialize pussy/ But a bum nigga like you would try it”. She continues to push the boundaries of R&B, with hints of indie rock on tracks like “Supermodel” and trap in “Garden (Say It Like Dat)”. The album as a whole explores freedom of sexuality in a modern world, along with insecurity, and the desire for closeness. To quote Pitchfork “CTRL is about sexual freedom while still having your hunger for intimacy be taken seriously.”

One of my favorite tracks is “Drew Barrymore”, atrack in which SZA portrays a more unassured and self conscious version of herself. The song speaks to the feeling of insecurity within a relationship with the chorus constantly questioning whether it is warm enough both inside her and outside. This double meaning; inside as sexual innuedo and outside refering to physical beauty, is complicated further by the fact that the line warm enough sounds similar to woman enough. SZA questions her feminity in relation to her sexual appeal, and shows the difficulties that are posed to women in our current cultural landscape. However the song is sort of an unapologetical apology for parts of her that may not be the epitome of how many think a lady should act.

Warm enough for ya outside baby, yeah
(Tell me that it’s warm enough here for ya)
Is it warm enough for ya inside me, me, me, me?
Warm enough for ya outside baby, yeah
(Tell me that it’s warm enough here for ya)
Warm enough outside, inside me, me, me, me

These sides of both the postives and negatives of modern love are present in the whole album. SZA wishes that she was a “normal girl” who is taken to meet the family, but also sleeps with her ex-boyfriend’s friend because he purposefully left her on Valentine’s Day.

Listen to CTRL here

 

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put your records on: tobias jesso jr.

Well, have you lost your memories?
Did you wash ’em down the drain?
And did you have some help deciding
To forget my name?
Cause nothing I can say to you
Could ever ease this pain

from “How Could You Babe?”

Everytime I listen to Tobias Jesso Jr. I feel as if I am listening to some classic record from the 70’s, but his album Goon is only a year old. His songs are simple, but beautiful about love, heartbreak, the struggles of being an artist. They make me think about the romantic relationships that I have been in, and even though I am young, his songs make love seem old. Jesso sounds so forlorn, wiser than his age. He knows what loss feels like, and his music doesn’t try to hide that. Piano, guitar, and simple drums create a stark effect of his lyrics and drifting, wounded voice.

I have often wished that the lessons one needs to learn in life, could come without the strife so often associated with them. But is it ever possible to grow without pain? We can learn from others, but it is often our own experiences which teach us the most. I guess that is why love is so compelling. From Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata to Franklyn Baur’s “I Wonder If We’ll Ever Meet Again” to artists like Billy Joel, Tobias Jesso Jr. and Adele, we continue to write and sing about the one lesson humanity still hasn’t learned.

P.S. If you need some more music about love, I have a playlist which you can listen to here