ALBUM REVIEW: Khalid's "Free Spirit"
Khalid is back with his new 17-track album titled Free Spirit, after having released his 7-track E.P. Suncity last year. Free Spirit includes two tracks found on Suncity: “Better” and “Saturday Nights.” With two more tracks than his first release back in 2017, American Teen, he stays true to the sound that gained him his ever growing popularity. Notably, unlike American Teen, Khalid has some features on his sophomore album, including SAFE, and John Mayer, along with a song produced by Disclosure. However, he holds onto his rich vocals and smooth beats prevalent on American Teen, creating a good mix between calm and fun songs. The album is cohesive, and each song flows into the next. Free Spirit is full of ballads, lyrics that make an impression, and just enough personal touches that we feel like we’re really getting to know Khalid.
The first track has a very cinematic feel to it. The music makes you feel like you’ve been immersed into a movie sequence. The chorus seems to be a stream of consciousness that lays out a story of a broken relationship, with both sides having their downfalls. Khalid comes to the realization that he needs to be on his own to come into his own, and it’s entirely heartbreaking and relatable.
Favorite lyric: I hoped we would never make it this far / But now I gotta find my worth
On this track, a soothing guitar riff and easy beat back Khalid’s beautiful vocals as he lets everyone know that he’s in love with bad luck. He warns those that love him that they’ll need to be patient, and that if you’re only there for his wealth, then he knows it. Friends and lovers alike should be warned, “if you’re gonna love me / you gotta love all of me.”
Favorite lyric: Hurt feels better when I’m by myself
Khalid acknowledges his negligence in a relationship with track 3. It’s his bad - “I didn’t text you back ‘cause I was workin’.” This song is only 2 minutes and 44 seconds long: quick and to the point. A cool guitar consistently drives us through the track, and creates a relaxed atmosphere to the song.
Favorite lyric: You’re followin’ the signs / But you’re followin’ the wrong signs, my love
Khalid first released “Better” on his E.P. Suncity. With his dreamlike vocals echoing in the background, he gives us the feeling of floating. This song just feels good on the ears, smooth and catchy, with lyrics that easily get stuck in your head.
Favorite lyric: Love to see you shine in the night like the diamond you are
The lead single off of Free Spirit, “Talk” easily gets caught in its listeners heads. Produced by Disclosure, an electronic duo known for their song “Latch” with Sam Smith, this track has nice effects that make it impossible to sit still. “Talk” features a well-known story of poor communication in a relationship where Khalid asks: “Can we just talk? / Figure out where we’re goin’.”
Favorite lyric: Before we get lost, lend me your thoughts / Can’t get what we want without knowin’
More fast paced than the first couple of songs, “Right Back” offers a sensual beat that is enjoyable when it slows down, then speeds up. With someone he’s missed, Khalid contemplates going back to where they were - but with no pressure:
“We don't gotta take it too fast
Bring it right back
You don't gotta stay the night
I just wanna take the time
I know all the things you like
Maybe if the mood is right”
Favorite lyric: Power / Got me sittin' by my phone, I’ve been waiting for hours / On my line, sending mirror pics of you fresh out the shower
Don’t Pretend (ft. SAFE)
Unlike “My Bad,” Khalid is the one trying to reach someone through the phone: “Bruising my finger hitting your line.” A beat that aides in telling the story of something missing, we all know what it’s like to feel as though a relationship would fizzle out if we weren’t the ones putting in the effort.
Favorite lyric: Show me, don’t pretend
With a reggae energy, “Paradise” adds to the summer feel Free Spirit captures. Easily moving through the lyrics, and with a beat that has you tapping your foot, Khalid sings about attempting to enjoy your night without thinking too much. Even in the summer, we still have our problems that we have to worry about - but sometimes we just want to forget about them, and enjoy our night. With a cool outro, we’re able to relax and breathe for a few moments before it ends.
Favorite lyric: Give it up for nights like this
A faster paced song, Khalid moves quickly through the song, staying on a solid beat as he sings about having “a hundred things to do today.” Just as the song, life is always moving and going. There’s no stopping, no matter what we have to do. Then he comes in with the outro: he goes off beat, he slows down. He’s taking a moment to stop and think.
Favorite lyric: Hundred days and I’m still alive
Outta My Head (with John Mayer)
John Mayer doesn’t sing on this song, but he did have a hand in writing it. A song that has you bouncing your head along, and swooning along to Khalid’s crooning, “Outta My Head” is about having someone on your mind. No matter what he does, he can’t get this person out of his head.
Favorite lyric: I know we’re just friends, but I’d rather be together instead
In an interview with Billboard, Khalid said, “Free Spirit is those first few steps into the world, when you realize that the world is not as easy as you planned it to be.” As the title track of this album, “Free Spirit” encapsulates what Khalid wants his entire album to be about. He achieves this with a quick guitar riff that would be fitting while sitting around a campfire on the beach. With lyrics such as “Is it everything you’re dreaming of?” or “‘Cause I don’t wanna live and die alone, don’t let me go,” Khalid brings us into the headspace of facing the real world.
Turning 21 is always a monumental part of our lives. We are finally seen as real adults. It’s exciting. We have the rest of our lives ahead of us. But on this track, Khalid reflects on how that feeling doesn’t last forever.
Favorite lyric: To end this fight, I have to change
Khalid channels the blues in this track, adding to the emotion of a relationship that has failed. He struggles to accept this broken relationship, and tries to understand where they are.
Favorite lyric: But I’m losing sight of your point of view
As the title suggests, “Self” is about Khalid, and his struggles with his mental health. He addresses that he has some things to work on, and that it hasn’t been one of his strengths facing them head on. An upbeat song, this doesn’t make his struggles seem insurmountable, or too controlling.
Favorite lyric: Now, does my raw emotion make me less of a man?
Following up “Self”, “Alive” is a stark contrast to the hopeful tone Khalid has. It’s a reminder that the path to changing, improving, and working on oneself, isn’t linear. Even though Khalid admitted that he wrote about himself and his own unique struggles on Free Spirit, it doesn’t make the entire album any less relatable. Heartbreakingly beautiful lyrics and more blues influence, this song is a tearjerker in its own right.
Favorite lyric: I shouldn’t have to die to feel alive
Paired with “Alive,” these two songs back-to-back are chilling. This ballad attacks the thoughts we’ve all had, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Sometimes we feel as though “there’s nothing left for me out here,” and it seems better to just go out with the memories we already have.
Favorite lyric: Heaven, make me an offer
The final track, “Saturday Nights” was previously released on Khalid’s E.P., Suncity. This song tells the story of a person who doesn’t get along with their parents, and struggles to make the connection. Khalid is there for this person. Though this may be a romantic relationship, this song just represents friendship so beautifully: “All the things I know / That your parents don’t.” This song is very real, and very adult. It gives an insight into growing up that may not be totally expected.
Favorite lyric: You’ve got plans wrapped in rubber bands.