It took me a little while to come around to Rachel Platten. "Fight Song" was the other song that came out right around when my mother passed away, and it was one of those things that everyone assumed would make me feel stronger. In reality, it got under my skin and I started turning it off every time the radio threw it on.
Then "Stand By You" came out, and something hit me the right way. That became the strength song for me. So seeing, today, that her full length album is out, I'm curious to see how else this girl can punch us musically.
Now here we go into the real review. "Hey Hey Hallelujah" features Andy Grammer, and is my first new taste of Rachel Platten. I'm into the second verse and am wondering where Andy is in this r&b mixture. There's of layers of vocals happening here - no indication of a solo Rachel singing. And oh, there's Andy. He's kind of a fun addition to the song, I have to admit. The beat is fantastic on this and will have your toes tapping along.
"Speechless" has that weird dragging quality that certain electronic-based songs have. You want them to move faster, but there's something in the backing that holds them back and you feel like the momentum is never really realized. On top of that, there's an airy quality to the vocals, and the song is just difficult to grasp onto.
Okay so they can't all be perfect, but "Beating Me Up" is a redemptive song for sure. Not that the last one was awful, but we're back on an upwards swing here. I think it speaks volumes to all of us, since we spend so much time putting ourselves down. We don't deserve the undue sadness and shouldn't keep hurting ourselves in that way. Forgive yourselves, please.
"Fight Song" comes up next. Now, if you're really reading, you've seen that I am not a humongous fan of this due to the timing in my life. That's not the say that the song isn't a good one. I get why people love it, and hell, given the right circumstances I am definitely into it. Plus, knowing Rachel's not hinging her livelihood on this one song and has more tracks that can back it up just helps further the ability to actually enjoy this.
I was kind of waiting for a love song in the middle of this. "Better Place" is happy to provide. What you want in life, in real love, is someone who enhances your life and your person. This describes that. The line "everything's all right" is sweet and simple and exactly what I know I'm looking for. I think what strikes me as the nicest thing here is that you could strip all the production away and just have this with a voice and a guitar, and it would be just as lovely and true.
"Lone Ranger" is intriguing as a title alone. I think the concept is good. When you're on your own and figuring it out, this is exactly how you feel. But it's not written well musically to convey that feeling. It's just poppy and airy and not hitting home the way I really want it to.
I feel like "You Don't Know My Heart" is done in a very similar vein. It's fine. It's a pop song. But you can't get it into yourself as closely as you want because the auto-tune drags you out of the feeling. I don't need to hear "he-he-he-heart" said like that.
Now "Angels in Chelsea" has the right mood to match the song. It's airy, and could slip by until you really hone in on the lyrics, which are fitting to that spirit it is sung in. And towards the end, there's a beat that's not altogether right, but I'm trying not to let things like that ruin what was otherwise a song that worked out so well. I'm guessing we're thinking New York in this, and though the neighborhood is specified, it's true of my loves in the entire city and boroughs.
"Astronauts" is another one that is fitting for the mood and message of the song. We're climbing up and into the atmosphere. If you've ever heard Kelly Clarkson's "High," this is very similar. There's a space-age sound to the music even, and I like the feeling of letting go into the stars.
I think "Congratulations" is an interesting departure from the rest of the album. Strip away all of the layers of instrumentation. This is a tougher, rougher Rachel Platten. The word choices are really fascinating and work so well with the mood. There's just something infectious about the slight sarcasm and write off she handles here. Well played, ma'am.
"Superman" ends the album on a rather somber note. I like that it's affirming to the gentleman its being sung to that he just has to be himself with her, and that's completely enough. It's great. I just guess I expected the album to have a hard finish. "Stand By You" might have even been a good way to finish out. But the farther in the gets, the more appropriate it seems. And shit... there's some fuzzy electro thing happening in the bridge that will knock you out of this completely. Maybe one of these days we'll get an acoustic version of this that will make it all make sense.
- "Stand By You"
- "Hey Hey Hallelujah"
- "Beating Me Up"
- "Fight Song"
- "Better Place"
- "Angels In Chelsea"
So this was a great journey. Rachel Platten has a slightly different sound, sort of combining the elements of the dance music Ellie Goulding and Tove Lo have been putting out, with the vocal and lyrical handling that I enjoy from Kelly Clarkson. While I don't know what kind of staying power this girl necessarily has, she did deliver a full album of songs that each stand on their own. It will be interesting to see which makes it through as the next single, and what she'll do next.