It’s good to be back for Take 5 this year. Don’t get me wrong, the couple of weeks in December when I don’t write this column serve as a good mental recharge for me. Taking some time for yourself is key to keeping fresh, focused, and healthy. The last two weeks getting back into the column and sorting through all of the new music has been amazing, though. Writing Take 5 is always a highlight of my week, and the quick break just makes returning that much better. Let’s get into this week’s selections.

Jerry Williams – David At The Bar

You never know what stories the people around you are carrying with them. Sometimes our stories interact with a stranger’s in ways we don’t expect. British singer Jerry Williams had an encounter like that herself, and turned it into the stunningly beautiful “David At The Bar.” Williams crafts a vivid narrative about this man, a person who has just fallen off the wagon and has his share of struggles. From this chance meeting Williams has crafted a song that delves into our regrets, our capacity for forgiveness and change, and what it means to move forward from a dark place when we can’t see the light yet. The instrumental is a simple guitar and some drums, which are all that are needed to score Williams’ moving vision. “David At The Bar” establishes Jerry Williams as an expert storyteller, and gives us all something to ponder.

Kemba – Deadass

Some songs waste no time at all to crawl into your brain and take root in there. No intro, just musical skill. Bronx rapper Kemba’s new single “Deadass” is one of those songs. In a brisk two minutes and twenty seconds Kemba shows what he’s made of. What he’s made of is wordplay that can tie everything from the Oklahoma City Thunder to Stevie Wonder together and production skills that created the perfectly chill beat he raps over. The punctuation of his points with the echoing repetition of the word “deadass” draws emphasis to his best lines and serves as a fun, smart way to provide extra flavor to the instrumental and flow. It’s made even more impressive knowing that this is the first time Kemba has tried his hand at production. If a song as good as “Deadass” is his first try, Kemba should definitely be in your rotation to see what comes next.

Billie Eilish – When I Was Older

You don’t have to see Roma in order to understand Billie Eilish’s new track “When I Was Older,” but I highly encourage you to seek it out. Alfonso Cuarón’s latest work is an incredible piece of art, and you can clearly identify how it influenced Eilish on the track. Eilish and her brother FINNEAS bring their trademark minimalist production and haunting melodies to “When I Was Older,” and that combined with the clear thematic connections to the quieter moments of Roma create a striking musical composition. The alteration to Eilish’s voice work in the context of the other elements of the song, and the sections where she speeds up into almost a chant while the music builds will take your breath away. When I Was Older works beautifully on its own, but for anyone who has seen Roma it’s clear Billie Eilish did her homework.

Judah & The Lion – Over my head

There’s a lot to think about in a day. You have to deal with all your daily tasks, and that’s before your mind turns to what you’re doing with your life, if you’re really happy, and all the fun existential questions. Thinking it about it all can be overwhelming. Judah & The Lion have turned that feeling into a song with the aptly named “Over my head.” Many of the trio’s songs go at a pretty quick pace, but “Over my head” might be their most breakneck track yet. Judah Akers details all of the huge issues his brain churns through as soon as he wakes up and the various ways in which he tries to cope. Meanwhile, Brian Macdonald and Nate Zuercher blaze a path with their uptempo mandolin and banjo playing. Everything builds up into a huge musical moment that sounds exactly what the inside of Akers’s mind must look like when thinking about these things. “Over my head” not only sounds amazing, it’s incredibly relatable as well.

Lana Del Rey – hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it

Lana Del Rey has never shied away from sharing her innermost feelings in her songs, no matter how personal they may be. To that end, her new single “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it,” might be her most revealing track to date. Del Rey talks frankly about her emotional exhaustion and the struggles she goes through while trying to put on a brave face. The instrumental is subdued and quiet, as the lyrics are clearly the most important part of this track. When Del Rey explains that she’s not happy and the best she ever feels tops out at “not sad,” it’ll break your heart. Even in her exhaustion, she’s crafted an amazing song full of the staples we adore from her. The way she sings “I’ve been tearing around in my fucking white gown” on the chorus with emphasis on the profanity is peak Lana. “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it,” is an amazing track, but here’s to hoping that Lana Del Rey can take some time and do what she needs to do in order to heal.

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