Who can deny the talents of Mr. Harry Styles? His latest album is a masterpiece. Harry tops our list this month with triple threat Mandy Moore, The Voice champ Jake Hoot and rock-grunge artist Paris Jackson rounding out the list.
Anyone with a traumatic childhood will surely gravitate to “Matilda,” a vulnerable highlight from Harry Styles’ new record. He has a thin relationship to the song’s protagonist, yet offers up empathy about how home and family are defined on one’s own terms. “You can throw a party full of everyone you know, and not invite your family ’cause they never showed you love,” he sings with a strawberry tang. Piano and few other instruments echo around him, almost as comforting vines and branches. “You don’t have to be sorry for doing it on your own,” he encourages. It’s a song that, given today’s socio-political climate, feels more profound than it previously might.
Listen to “Matilda” below.
Mandy Moore wades into the deep end of friendship with “Heartlands.” A cut from her new LP, the piano tuner serves as an olive branch to a friend who, better or worse, is a wanderer by nature. “But you wander off when things get hard,” sings Moore with a pointed dagger. Later, she further reveals why she has distanced herself, dinging, “You make it difficult to be a friend ‘cause I won’t agree to disagree.” Percussion sputters beneath her feet and adds musical depths, those waters seemingly ebbing and flowing with the emotional time signature. In the chorus, she leaves a crumbled note about where she stands, “I won’t say how to live your life, but I’ll be here when your heart lands.”
Listen to “Heartlands” below.
Jake Hoot proves once again that he’s the everyman. Inspired after receiving an exorbitant bill in the mail, the singer-songwriter took to pen and paper to funnel out his emotions, mostly gratitude that he had money to even cover it. “Had It to Lose” is a personal statement about learning to cherish what one has, rather than grow resentful for what you don’t. “At least I had it to lose / Yes, you can’t take it with you in the end,” sings Hoot. It’s charming, breezy, and doesn’t skimp on the emotional suckerpunch.
Listen to “Had It to Lose” below.
Paris Jackson takes a hard left into fresh territory with “lighthouse.” Where her 2020 album wilted, and even an EP issued earlier this year, aligned with her folk fascination, the new single explodes with a rock-grunge attitude. “I can feel the lights go low, but I don’t wanna let go now,” she snaps on the song, largely inspired by Nirvana’s 1992 track “Sliver.” She further unfurls on the chorus, “Maybe if I turn around, you’ll see me and what you used to be / Your wave keeps crashing in a changeless sea.” The musical coating certainly suits her voice, perhaps even more than any other genre.
Listen to “lighthouse” below.
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