Harry Styles CD, Limited Edition, Import
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I think so many people associate One Direction with " What Makes You Beautiful " and immediately dismiss them as boy band fluff. The first two albums are NOT my favorites as I'm a 40-year old mom of boys. I wasn't dragged to their concerts, but found them after their appearance on The Late Late Show. Harry caught my attention immediately, not his looks but his low, raspy voice. Color me curious, I used Prime to listen and was surprised to discover they had some excellent songs (Harry-specific compositions include Walking in the Wind, If I Could Fly, Olivia, Stockholm Syndrome, Where Do Broken, Something Great, Happily, also see Through the Dark, 18, Fool's Gold, Once in a Lifetime, Fireproof, and What A Feeling for a small sampling of adult-friendly songs). The singles (and their management) may have pandered to their youngest fans, but they are enjoyable for older fans too...you just have to give them the chance.
Needless to say, I was really excited to see what Harry would do away from the constraints of his band and label. And he has truly flourished and quite literally blossomed as a solo artist. He's always been the quirky one and a solo album gives him the opportunity to shine. "The Pink Album" finds him (somewhat) exposed and vulnerable with his lyrics. As opposed to some fans, I don't dissect the lyrics looking for hidden meanings, but just listen for the enjoyment of some good music. And there are many standouts. In fact, the only one I tend to skip is "Sign of the Times" simply because I've heard it so much. There are plenty to chill to (Meet Me in the Hallway, Woman, From the Dining Table - WOW!), some sweet ones (Sweet Creature), and the rollicking ones (Carolina - current fave, Only Angel, Kiwi). The only complaint I have is on Ever Since New York, whose live version on Saturday Night Live, had some muscle behind it - the studio version is much more laid back, I kept waiting for the gritty vocals and his higher notes but they never came.
He's certainly not the first gender-bending artist but the aesthetic of the album suits him (he's already quite iconic and he's only 23). I truly think he's got "It" and has a lot of potential for someone so young. Don't dismiss him, give him a chance, he's quite the charmer and "Harry Styles" proves he's got the vocals and songwriting skills to go along with his hair, dimples, and high fashion!
On his own, Harry stands to his full, unhindered potential. He demonstrates an incredible vocal range that's soothing in all its tones. The music itself has a rock edge to some, and a soft, mellow sound to the majority. All the songs having moving, heartfelt lyrics, and I almost forgot for a minute that I wasn't listening to my '80s playlist. It transports you to an era not that long gone, yet it almost makes you nostalgic, which is amazing for someone who hasn't lived that time.
All in all, this album redefines him, giving him more depth and hopefully a wider audience to extend his musical talents to.
Every song on Harry Styles is beautifully produced and executed. He expertly molds his distinctive voice to fit each song. The album is a journey through longing, rapture, temptation (the kind that will ruin your life, if you let it) love, hope, commitment, lust, jealousy, loneliness, abandonment. The sounds are timeless - paying homage to rock of years past, but with a fresh perspective. Harry Styles doesn't sound like anything else hitting the markets these days. This is Styles' uncompromising perspective of what an album should be and sound like. It's very much worth having in your collection.
Also, One Direction has some great songs that have likely never been played on the radio. (Only some of their music panders to the current market, with auto-tune and over-produced sounds.) Once you fall in love with Styles' album you should give the last 3 One Direction albums a listen. You'll be surprised, I know I was.