I first started listening to Khalid in the summer of 2017. When I think about American Teen, his debut album, I remember driving with his smooth voice in my ears and a summer breeze blowing through my car. I associate Khalid with being carefree, and every time I listen to his music, I get in that mood again.
Free Spirit, Khalid’s latest album, is different. It’s sadder and deeper than American Teen, but in the best way. Every track has the potential to be a chart-topping hit. With the voice of an angel, Khalid makes you want to sway and move, no matter what he’s singing.
Like many other 21-year-olds, Khalid is confused, hopeful and a little struck out when it comes to love. There’s a fair share of broken romance in the album — tales of a young man tortured in love. The first song, “Intro,” describes a relationship that’s complicated and messy.
“I feel heaven when you’re here with me/ I feel hell every time you leave/ But I need to get you off of my back/ I gotta get you off of my back,” he sings about not being able to live without the person you love.
With a head-bobbing and catchy beat, Khalid asks his significant other to love him deeper and not give up on what they have in “Bad Luck,” which also details his lack of success with relationships. Like the album’s other choruses, this one will stay in your head all day.
“’Cause I’m in love with bad luck/ I’m in love with bad luck/ Move too close, get caught up,” he sings.
It’s impossible to ignore the sadness on this album. “Alive” and “Heaven” give the audience a taste of Khalid’s struggle with anxiety, which he’s been open about. While he appears happy-go-lucky like so many other people, Khalid still has his demons. This album expands upon his struggles, but still remains hopeful.
“Grim Reaper, just give me one more night/ I need another chance to say goodbye/ I shouldn’t have to die to feel alive,” he sings on “Alive.”
These tracks are balanced out by Khalid’s more upbeat songs, like “Better” and “Saturday Nights,” which remind me a little more of American Teen — happy, feel-good, catchy songs. Both tracks also appear on his 2018 EP Suncity.
“Free Spirit” encapsulates the feel of the album in true titular-track fashion. “I’ve been loving more, living less/ Off of highs and lows, so obsessed/ Couldn’t get nothin, but we’re never running out.” Khalid tells his listeners not to settle, keep dreaming and keep loving even though life is hard sometimes.
We’re in the homestretch of the semester. Finals start in about a month, and I can feel the summer in the air. Khalid’s album is a much-needed breath of fresh air to accompany walks to class and long nights at the library. The end is in sight. Keep studying — and give Free Spirit a listen while you do.