Weekly Roundup of ListenOnRepeat New Reviews for Nov. 30 – Dec. 06, 2020

Weekly Music Roundup of ListenOnRepeat

Remembering John Lenon on his death anniversary! He was a stay-at-home-dad during his final years when he was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman at his residence on December 8, 1980, at the age of 40 years. Throughout his life, he gave us hundreds of amazing songs out of which Imagine is one of those legendary songs that will be sung until eternity.

Here are the latest music reviews on ListenOnRepeat from last week!

Alexandra Kay – All the Cowboys (Official Audio Video)

Alexandra Kay - All The CowboysLost is a good word to describe the tone of “All the Cowboys.” Indeed, the song describes a call between a daughter and a mother, whereby the daughter is asking for advice about her love life, in full breakdown mode between putting on loads of washing. Here are the lyrics in the lead up to the chorus, and they sum up her mindset: “If I came on a little strong/ if I’m too short, if I’m too tall/ mama don’t don’t sugarcoat it tell me what’s wrong/ why do all the cowboys ride away/ to find them another heart to break.” Indeed, it describes a predicament that is as old as time. How do you keep someone who doesn’t want to be kept?

“All the Cowboys” is shaping up to be a real hit for Alexandra Kay, the Illinois native who got her big break, in part, due to her famous teenage cover of “Jolene,” by Dolly Parton. Still, she is at the start of her real career, and the fact that this new track is climbing high in downloads charts is a real positive for her.

No answer comes from her mother in the lyrics, unfortunately. Instead, the answers come from her own judgment in the lyrics: “It is in their nature, I can’t change them.” Also, fans in comments sections have taken a stab at the issue, with one comment, in particular, addressing mental health, co-dependency, and the idea of ‘fixing someone’: “Thinking someone else will fix us when that’s not the case. I apologize for the lot of us. Best wishes to all of you and your souls.” It’s a winner for Kay and certainly something people are engaging with on a real level.

Morgan Wallen – Livin’ The Dream (Audio)

Morgan Wallen - Livin' The Dream (Audio)The download charts right now are dominated by two different artists, and it demonstrates the current trends in popular music. The first, of course, is BTS, the K-pop giant that never ceases its quest for stat domination or its juggernaut rise in popularity. The second is Morgan Wallen, a country singer from Tennessee who participated in the 2014 season of The Voice before getting singed. The reason why both have their names in the “new top songs” lists is that they have both recently released projects. But the fact that we see K-pop followed by country music, with a couple of Justin Bieber and Billie Eilish types sandwiched in between, perfectly represents the state of play in popular modern music right now.

Indeed, it is the K-pop and country fans that spend money on releases. With hip-hop and electronic music going digital (and not being seen as gifts!), it is country albums that people but (particularly with an older fanbase) and K-pop music that parents get their kids in the holiday season.

Yet, “Livin’ The Dream” by Morgan Wallen is part of an upcoming double album that is slated for a January 8 release date. In it, he reveals some of the pain and hardship that comes with a fast-living, rockstar lifestyle. Fans in comments sections are full of sympathy and support, and it has more than a ring of Justin Bieber’s “Lonely” to it. One top comment said: “I think we as fans tend to forget what you sacrifice for us! We love you, Morgan! Don’t let us or anyone push you beyond the blurred lines of enjoying your life and livin’ your dream! We love you and every song you do. Be sure to take time for you and that baby!”

Jacob Collier – The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)

Jacob Collier - The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)We begin in baubles on Christmas trees where Jacob Collier’s faces appear, each one harmonizing with the others. Next, we are flicking through the pages of a scrapbook, where the pictures perform a colossal and beautiful rendition of an old classic. Indeed, for many, the magic of Christmas is wrapped up in nostalgia – for childhood, for historical imagery, and for old romance. “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire” is the perfect delivery method, soothing and challenging listeners, but most importantly transporting them back to someplace different, when the holiday season was truly sprinkled with magic dust.
Jacob Collier wasn’t necessarily expected to release a Christmas song. But it works so well and now fans are calling for an entire album from the genius British multi-instrumentalist. One top commenter remarked: “this might be what a warm, colorful, and snuggly blanket transformed into a magic carpet, that takes you on a ride alongside Santa’s reindeer’s, sounds like.” Others have simply called the music “liquid gold.”
Collier seems like a Christmas lover – he is always wearing big jumpers, funny hats, and generally warm-looking attire. Fans will be able to imagine just how much he loved the music of Christmas as a kid, with its strong lean towards harmony and its transmission of old melodies. He is perhaps exercising his inner Christmas elf with “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire,” yet it is taken just as seriously and playfully as his other, funkier music. The track finishes with an epic emotional crescendo in which everything seems to slow right down, the notes last longer and the spaces expand, drawing out the feeling to its fullest extent.

In The Morning | Jennifer Lopez | Official Lyric Video

In The MorningJennifer Lopez has become something of an icon for many reasons, but there is one that seems to stick out more than the others – how great she looks for her age. Sadly, it’s true, and for those that need proof, all they’d need to do would be to take a glance at the comments section for her latest release, “In The Morning.” One in three or one in four comments is related to this very subject. Now into her fifties, J-Lo is an example of ageless grace for many fans around the world: “JLo looks more beautiful than ever! She is such a pure example of beauty, confidence, and grace.”

Interestingly this tone is at odds with the message of the song. “In The Morning” is all about seeing beyond the body and behaving in a way that puts personality first. According to the singer, this is how lust gives way to real love. The opening lyrics (and the song’s central hook) make this very clear: “If you love me/ Say it in the morning/ Not just in the evening/ Only when you want my body.” The cover image for the track centralizes her body – further foregrounding the fix she finds herself in: the battle between being seen for physical beauty versus something deeper is probably something she has been navigating her whole life.

But maybe it isn’t as deep as that. Were it not for the lyrics we could assume that this is just another single that grabs attention through sex and sensuality (though it is a world away from the Cardi Bs and the Megan Thee Stallions of the industry). In a Tweet, J-Lo hinted that this would be the first in a string of new songs, which will delight fans in the run-up to Christmas.

Lianne La Havas – Ex-Factor (Lauryn Hill cover) Radio 1 Piano Sessions

Liannr La HavasLianne La Havas is the queen of English R&B/ Soul. She has a style and tone that are all her own, meaning that as soon as her music starts we can sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that we are about to be transported somewhere real and beautiful. Here, in the BBC Radio One Studio, she tackles a song that holds a very special place in the history of neo-soul: “Ex-Factor” by the inimitable Lauryn Hill. The pressure is on, therefore, but La Havas pulls it off well – one top comment gives the following opinion: “WOW, never thought anyone could do that song justice until this moment.”

This interpretation is inevitably slower, owing to their singer’s style, and she is accompanied by a spiraling piano melody. No other instruments play a part, just vocals, and keys, which is the perfect set up for a voice that woos and bemuses listeners with delicate complexity anyway, even before production has had a part to play.

La Havas is coming off the back of her most recent, self-titled album, whose songs “Illuminate passion, impulsiveness, ambivalence, and uncertainty,” yet one whose structures “are lucid and poised” … according to critic Jon Pareles. He also remarks how this has become a signature style for La Havas – impeccably-controlled vocals delivering songs that describe matters of the heart, which are anything but controllable.

The same duality is present here as she dives into one of the flagship songs of Lauryn Hill’s neo-soul heyday. “Ex-Factor” is about how love is the opposite of simple, and La Havas weaves her own level of pain and beauty into the lyrics. A performance that all music fans should be clicking on without a second thought.

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