WILLOW released her latest full-length album, lately I feel EVERYTHING, on July 16th.
At only 20 years old, WILLOW has spent half her life in the music industry. The artist time and time again has proven her skills as she bends the boundaries of genre with her signature style and unique voice, and at last, she is rising in the ranks in recognition for it as tracks like “Wait A Minute!” and “Boy” climbed the charts in anticipation for the newest release.
Willow Smith began working on the album in 2020, during the pandemic. With all the extra time on her hands at home, she began recording demos that she would later re-record when she felt like she could safely enter a studio. It was a new process for her, born out of caution, but it helped her capture the rawness of her new sound. On the record, WILLOW channels the pop-punk and emo heroes she adored as a teenager– Avril Lavigne, My Chemical Romance, and Paramore. With lately I feel EVERYTHING, a decade of growth both in the industry and as a young woman come to a head. Her new single and LP is a love letter to that constant evolution.
I just wanted to let loose with this album. I wanted to have fun and be young and not be so existential and worrying all the time. I thought this was a really dope outlet for a new energy I wanted to bring to my music.
“t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l” was originally unveiled via Beats1’s Zane Lowe as a New Music Daily and has since garnered both critical praise and commercial success. Featuring Travis Barker, the track has amassed a huge following on social media platforms and taken coveted spots on playlists. The track was the first single to tease the album, and rightfully so, it is the first track of the album.
The pop-punk banger is an anthem track battling the the toxicity and red flags. Beginning as a reveal of a toxic relationship, the track transitions into a beat honing in on self-reflection and a call for change in the self. Where a relationship can be found toxic, it takes courage to become the better person and realize that you, too, could be in the wrong; not just the other person involved. WILLOW wars with that concept throughout the track and faces herself in a transparently vulnerable matter that grips the audience into a state of gentle conviction to work on improving the self.
Next, “F**K You,” is a short, thirty second interlude that screams the middle finger at the heart-breaker.
Collaborating with Travis Barker in this next rock hit, “Gaslight” is the next chapter in WILLOW’s journey through self-discovery. The heavy instrumentals could reflect on the destruction in this process as it chases through the memories and trauma. This track processes through the tactics of manipulation, the degrading and self-doubting process through being gaslighted as the light and spark in a relationship flickers out.
“don’t SAVE ME,” may be just under two minutes, but its power lingers on the mind. Capturing a time capsule of peak anxiety in being isolated and alone after becoming used to the ties of a relationship, albeit a toxic one, the audience is wrapped into the experience and offered a release in listening in order to feel a little less alone.
Next, “naive” creates a laid back and quiet feeling within with its slowed tempo. Conquering the idea that life is hard, she takes it on anyways because life will continue to go on, and she can’t afford to stop moving forward. Instead, she chooses to find intrigue and hope for the future. And maybe, that is naive of her, but it’s the way she’s living life and she refuses to let anything stop her from doing so.
Beautifully crafted into the lyrics, at the same time, she shares in her longing for companionship, for protection against her naivety and how it’s gotten her hurt in the past. “And I nevеr notice when the night goеs sour/Tastes bittersweet when you drive up/You open up to me like a flower/I just wanna see you bloom and I/I need you to tell me when I’m being naïve…”
Throughout the track, WILLOW references the shadow left lingering since 2020 with the battles on the streets fighting for justice. While all this has occurred, she still hopes and can’t help it, she admits, that there has to be more than struggling through life and that she cant help but long to see people bloom into their fullest potential. Maybe it’s naive and it’s gotten her hurt in the past, but she doesn’t know what else to do.
“Lipstick,” the single following immediate hit, “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l,” is the ultimate love letter for WILLOW in growth and unashamedly being herself. The peak of the album, WILLOW shares her aspirations, and transforming her pain into a process of spreading her wings and process in growth.
The complimenting visual of the track showers a landscape of the meadows and valleys on WILLOW’s lipstick and eyeshadow, and begins to soar into the skies as she sings throughout the track until the galaxies glow on her.
Sharing features from the likes of Tierra Whack, Avril Lavigne, and Cherry Glazer, the remainder of the album continues along the thread in WILLOW’s journey into becoming who she is today. And complimenting her signature vocals, her idols and friends alike share their support in harmonizing along with her.
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