I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of music recently. Sure, writing about music means it’s always on my mind at least a little bit, but I’ve been really reflecting on it. For every emotion and every situation, there’s a song or a piece of music to bring us together. It can help us through the tough times and provide a soundtrack to our most joyful moments. Getting to share that with all of you in this column is one of my greatest joys. Hopefully you’ve found songs in this journey that have impacted your life, and I hope you continue to do so as long as I keep writing Take 5. Let’s get into the music. But first: a programming note! Since next week is Labor Day, Take 5 will run on Tuesday, September 3.
Cyn – Never-ending Summer
From an actual, physical standpoint, summer is almost over. Most of you are back in school at this point, and we’re now less than a month away from the fall equinox. But summer isn’t just a season, it’s a feeling. And that feeling lives on in Cyn’s new single “Never-ending Summer.” I talked about it earlier in the week when the song dropped, but this song just makes me feel happy on a visceral level. The beat and instrumentation is not only constructed musically to carry you to a peaceful place, but emotionally it’s warm and vibrant as well. Cyn has so encapsulated the feeling of summer into the song that it’s impossible not to smile while listening to it. Combine that smart writing with her dreamy vocals, and you have something special. Fall is coming, but “Never-ending Summer” shows you don’t ever have to leave summer.
Walk Off The Earth – I’ll Be There
There’s a strong chance you know Walk Off The Earth from one of their many cover songs that have gone viral across social media, driven by an incredibly loyal and devoted fanbase. But the band makes original music too, and their latest effort “I’ll Be There” is one of their strongest yet. The same string-driven style that drives their covers thrives on their original material, with an uplifting and bouncy guitar serving as the heart of “I’ll Be There” over a bed of funky percussion. The group’s vocal harmonies have also always been a staple of theirs, and once again are a strong point on the track. Emotionally, the track hits hard for the group and for fans, a reaffirmation of their commitment to one another following the passing of WOTE member Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor in late 2018. From that powerful emotional core to the sounds that have brought fans to Walk Off The Earth for years, “I’ll Be There” is a strong entry into their catalogue.
FINNEAS – Shelter
There aren’t many producers working right now who have a better feel for a hook and a mood than FINNEAS. He’s not only helped launch his sister Billie Eilish into the stratosphere with his production, he’s cranking out masterpieces on his own, too. The latest of these is “Shelter,” which dropped this week and showcases all of FINNEAS’s own talents brilliantly. Vocally and lyrically, he has quite a haunting, expressive voice to go with the urgent pleas for respite. On the production side, he makes an acoustic guitar sound like the most menacing thing in the world. As he looks for “shelter,” the guitar rolls along, uncaring and uncompromising. The riff that kicks in on the chorus is another in the long line of incredible hooks he’s produced, and one I continue to hum to myself days after hearing it. FINNEAS is on the rise, and “Shelter” shows why.
Alessia Cara – OKAY OKAY
In case you haven’t been paying attention, Alessia Cara has been dropping gems all summer. There’s still time for you to get on board, as it was just this past Friday when Cara dropped her best work of 2019, the incredible single “OKAY OKAY.” Cara teamed up with acclaimed producer Jon Levine to bring some grounded, gritty sound to the pop world. Every hit of the beat, every horn, and even all the synths on “OKAY OKAY” sound like they’re happening right in front of you. This is a pop song that breathes and moves like a living thing, full of weight and power. Cara helps that vibe with a huge outpouring of confidence in the lyrics and the fire in her voice to back it up. If you need to run a marathon or take on any other big challenges this week, “OKAY OKAY” is the song for you.
Taylor Swift – Cornelia Street
When it comes to first-week sales in 2019, Taylor Swift topped the charts in one day with her new album Lover. This is absolutely astounding and completely unsurprising at the same time, somehow. But this isn’t just Swift coasting on her name; Lover is a wonderful album packed full of fantastic songs. While it’s hard to pick a favorite after just one weekend, I’ve been especially attached to “Cornelia Street” on my listens. The strength of Jack Antonoff as a producer is his ability to spin a track while still maintaining the core of the artist he’s working with, and “Cornelia Street” illustrates that. It’s still all Swift in the gentle piano and the heartfelt lyrics about the strength of her love and what heartbreak would do to her, but Antonoff has spun it in a shimmering, synthy direction that lingers with you for a long time. You don’t need me to tell you that Taylor Swift rules the world, and “Cornelia Street” shows what she can do at this stage of her career.
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