Album Review: Willow - 'Willow'

A problem celebrities' children face in trying to break into the entertainment world is the fear of permanently living in their parents' shadow. Is this the case for Willow Smith? Absolutely not.

Willow is back with her third album, the self-titled WILLOW. At 22 minutes long, she dives into hot topics in today's social climate such as smartphones, anxiety, beauty standards and even time travelling, all while exploring a dreamy R&B and psychedelic pop blend (a huge departure from her 2011 catchy hit Whip My Hair), which leaves the listener with a nostalgic feel for those reverb-filled 1960s and 1970s songs. We haven’t heard Willow paired with this type of music before, however her honey-like voice blends perfectly with the melancholic sounds.

Image courtesy of MSFTSMusic
"We haven’t heard Willow paired with this type of music before."

WILLOW begins with Like A Bird, a slow harmony-filled song with a guitar, a gentle drum beat and, of course, lots of reverb. It sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the album and resembles Turn To Dust by Wolf Alice, coincidentally the first track on their album. Willow’s voice sounds almost wailing, yet it's pitch perfect and gives that haunting edge to the song which is just what it needs to match powerful lyrics such as "Feel like a knife as it cuts into me.” As it finishes, the song then fades into Female Energy, Part 2 which is my personal favourite on the album, and one I cannot stop playing. Combining its waltz time signature and the melodic harmonies, it almost lets the listener have peace of mind whilst delving into Willow's thoughts about love. I feel like one could listen to this song whilst dancing with one's beloved, or at 4am when one can't sleep. It's a song both for one's most jubilant and most vulnerable moments.

"It's a song both for one's most jubilant and most vulnerable moments."

Time Machine is the third track on the album, and it possesses such brilliant lyrics. Willow sings about how she has “20th Century dreams” and wishes she could go back in time and hang out with her idols such as Basquiat and Kurt Cobain. She also mentions how she feels like everyone is disconnected, due to us all looking at our phones. This is an interesting comment in a time where phones dominate our lives, yet people are becoming more aware to the fake lives that others portray online; perhaps Willow’s '20th century dream' may come true one day. The seventh track U KNOW features a rap by brother Jaden as he adds his own signature to the song. Although still a good song, I felt like this track was more of an interlude to the album than the previous song titled then (interlude) was. It didn't quite fit into the overall vibe of the album built up by the titular artist.

Image courtesy of Getty
"Perhaps Willow’s '20th century dream' may come true one day."

Picking the album back up is the eighth and final song Overthinking IT, which has a more full sound than the previous calming and emotional tracks, and almost pays homage to her first album ARDIPITHECUS. Co-written and produced by herself and Tyler Cole, her self-titled album has brought a breath of fresh air to her discography and through her three albums, you can see her songwriting journey as she goes from a teen to a young adult. Thus, her third album makes me excited for her future releases.