Khalid is something of a Cinderella story. His career blew up after he released a song called “Reasons” on Soundcloud. I remember seeing a post from an account saying “Couldn’t you imagine this guy on a song with Drake” along with a clip from the song. I instantly loved the song and played it on repeat for weeks. The next thing I know, Khalid releases a song titled “Location” that climbed the charts incredibly fast.
Off of the success of that song, Khalid released his 2017 album titled “American Teen”. While the project was solid, it was apparent (and not just by the title) that the album was written by a teenager. Now, Khalid has returned with his 2019 release titled “Free Spirit”. It’s clear that he has grown from an innocent teen to a young man, and that he’s gained not just life experience and wisdom, but even more vocal talent.
What I instantly noticed about this project was Khalid’s improved vocal ability. While he remains in his same range, he sounds much more confident. It appears he’s been practicing. He does a good job of really using his voice to bring out the emotion attached to his lyrics. The song “Heaven” is a perfect example of this. He also utilizes a lot of harmonies throughout the project which are, for the most part, beautifully done. On top of this change, it also appears that Khalid got a bit more experimental with the production on this project. There are tracks with slow guitar, as well as some smooth, synth filled songs, songs with strings as well as some upbeat tracks.
Khalid does a good job of including a myriad of moods in the project. It’s a solid mix of happy and sad. The upbeat songs about love and joy help to compliment the slow songs about heartbreak and feeling lost. The song “Outta My Head” is a great example of an upbeat, happier song about love. Also, I must admit, it’s impressive to me that the 21 year old was able to get John Mayer involved with the song.
My personal favorite tacks on the project are “Saturday Nights”, which was also on his 2018 EP “Suncity”, and “Don't Pretend”. Both have a similar vibe and both feature smooth, emotional vocals.
My only critique for this album perhaps comes attached with Khalid’s age. While there was some change in sound in this album from his debut album, I feel that maybe it wasn’t as much as I anticipated. Of course, we know the saying “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. While I agree with this for the most part, I think with artists it’s important to grow and evolve. But again, Khalid is a young kid who hopefully has decades of music making ahead of him.
Overall, this sophomore project from Khalid is a pretty big improvement from his first. I genuinely enjoyed it. I’ll be following him closely to see what he decides to do with his third album.