Khalid’s debut album ‘American Dream’: a Review

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Photo: Saint Heron

Known for his bops ‘Saved’ and ‘Location’, Khalid has recently released his heartfelt debut album ‘American Teen’ sketching a generational mood with soul, warmth and sincerity.

At only 19 years old from El Paso Texas, Khalid has already released a plethora of singles ‘Reasons’, ‘Coaster’, ‘Saved’ and ‘Lets Go’ so it was only a matter of time before an album would drop.

With all the lost hope in America today, ‘American Teen’ is the perfect opening song young Americans need to hear. The tune speaks not just to American teenagers but I feel it also speaks for youth around the world. It is simply a celebration of youth and national identity (moreso being an American) as Khalid sings “my youth is the foundation of me, living life as an American teen”. The lyrics are relatable to todays youth and particularly traditional American culture as Khalid sings “we don’t always say what we mean, when we’re high off our American dream”.

Trust me, ‘Young, Dumb and Broke’ will be one of those songs that will be stuck in your head long after it has finished. The bold beat combined with what sounds like an electric organ is quite simple but this really makes Khalid’s unique vocals stand out as he tunefully sings repetitively “while we’re young dumb and broke high school kids, ya da do da da da”.

One of my favourites and probably one of his most popular songs, ‘Location’ has a really beautiful, unique opening with what sounds like an electric harp alongside rhythmic layered claps. The song then takes off further when an all-impending bass is added. The instrumental layering and complexity in this song is admirable, Khalid’s vocals are internally graceful and calming. Honestly, when I first heard this song it instantly reminded of Majid Jordan.

‘Another Sad Love Song’ is particularly admirable for Khalid’s creativity in layering his vocals to create deep yet raspy and mesmerising harmonies. The song basically reflects on the ‘bridges burned’ from a previous relationship where Khalid sings “I’m not the best at showing my emotion”.

‘Saved’ is another well-known earlier released track that will probably ring bells in your ears. With its beachside, calming vibe created through its gentle acoustics, claps and slow drum beat will make you feel as if your on holiday. Khalid’s vocals are fresh and have this subtle echo to them adding this atmospheric vibe to the song. The synth crafted halfway through the song adds some character, variating the song nicely. Personally, I really enjoyed the subtle piano at the end of the song  which ended the song really peacefully and fittingly.

‘Coaster’ is the ideal song that will settle you down at the end of a long day. Definitely a more slower tune from the album, the quiet piano accompaniment with the backing choir vocals are once again very atmospheric and take you up into the clouds as Khalid sings “don’t come back to me”.

‘8TEEN’ is a groovy upbeat tune with a signature chiming synth. Once again Khalid’s lyrics are relatable and are rather a throwback to his younger years (when he was 18) as he sings about how he prefers his friends parents than his own.

The tune ‘Hopeless’ has a sound like freshly squeezed orange juice, sweet yet refreshing. Its sparkling synths have this 80’s feel to them alongside Khalid’s pleasant, raw vocals adds a more laid back, natural feel to the song.

The instrumentals in ‘Cold-Blooded’ in my opinion perfectly recreate the title of the song. The subdued, numbing drumbeat alongside the rather effective, sharp echoing electric guitar gives the song a rather sensual, sexy yet icy feel.

‘Winter’ is another one of my favourites. Opening with a delicate xylophone keyboard piano, a slapping drum beat and Khalid’s vocals. I found the atmospheric synth effects were really cool, definitely taking away those rather drab connotations we draw with ‘winter’. Khalid even makes a quick mention to his hometown El-Paso.

With its simple piano and vibrating drum beat ‘Therapy’ is therapeutic at best. Notably, the effective backing vocals will soothe your soul and ears. Another therapeutic song is ‘Angels’ which concludes the album with a simple yet rich and graceful piano. This track explains Khalid’s newfound passion for music and expresses his content with where he is at right now in life as he sings “I’ve found angels” , “angels give me strength and I’m not giving up, wipe away my tears”.

To sum it all up, Khalid’s debut album is one of those albums that you can just completely chill out to on a lazy weekend. He just oozes cool and his sound is distinctive and easy to listen to which makes me excited to see how he progresses as an artist into the future.

Listen to Khalid’s ‘American Teen’ below

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