‘Free Spirit’ another chapter in Khalid’s musical journey

Kaitlin Clark, Print Editor-in-Chief

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If you listen to the radio, stream music on Spotify, or have recently looked at Billboard’s Hot 100 list, chances are you’ve heard of singer-songwriter Khalid Donnel Robinson, more widely known as Khalid. He was first rocketed to stardom two years ago with the release of his first album, “American Teen.” The album received rave reviews and millions of streams, which set the bar high for his next release. Unfortunately, Khalid’s EP “Suncity” was widely considered to be a disappointment, even though the singer did touch on several different genres. At only 21 years old, and with his first album released when he was 19, Khalid is still fairly new to the music industry, and although his last release was a bit of a disappointment, plenty of people, including me, have been waiting in anticipation to see if his sophomore album “Free Spirit” could live up to the hype that “American Teen” created.

“Free Spirit” is hard to compare to “American Teen,” largely due to the overall feel of the two albums. Where “American Teen” was a generally fun album that discussed the lives and common experiences of American teenagers, “Free Spirit” digs deeper, but lacks some of that spunk that made Khalid’s first album so popular. This is not to say that “Free Spirit” is lesser than “American Teen,” merely different.

Khalid delves into many different parts of music in his songs, with everything from the light-sounding pop song with deep lyrics, “Hundred,” to “Talk,” a song punctuated by a heavier beat and electric sounds. I enjoyed this, but I still couldn’t help but feel like some songs still swam together in a way that lost a bit of their individuality in the name of cohesivity. That being said, there were several songs that did stand out to me. I greatly enjoyed the album’s namesake, “Free Spirit” as well as “Paradise,” “Twenty One” and “Self.” The diversity he was able to show in his performance of these songs was admirable, and part of what made this album something that I found myself enjoying.

“Free Spirit” did not quite have the growth that I expected to hear in Khalid’s second album, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It isn’t groundbreaking, but it is an album that I would put on while driving around town or going on a road trip. As I said in my review for “Suncity,” Khalid is still figuring out his sound. He’s young, and given time to grow, I believe that he could become a full-blown icon. This album just won’t be the one to get him there. I do, however plan to listen to “Free Spirit” again in the future, even if it isn’t as freehearted as its name would have one believe. Khalid has proven his talent, now he needs to recapture the individuality that made “American Teen” such a big success. People aren’t listening to his music in hopes of hearing another pop star, they want to hear the R&B style that launched his career. His latest album may have drifted away from this, but its importance as a part of his career must be admired. After listening to “Free Spirit,” I have no doubt that Khalid has a promising musical journey ahead, and I look forward to seeing where it leads him.

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