What You Need To Know - April 4, 2019

Khalid's Free Spirit: What You Need To Know
by James
James
by James hmv London, Bio "Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor, hmv.com

Khalid's Free Spirit: What You Need To Know

With his platinum-certified 2017 debut album American Teen, Khalid Donnel Robinson – better known simply as Khalid – marked himself out as one of the most promising young artists to emerge that year, straddling the line between classic R&B and forward-thinking pop to create a sound all of his own.

Since then, Khalid has collaborated with the likes of Halsey, Lorde and Billie Eilish, as well as finding time last year to release a 7-track EP, Suncity, under his own name.

This week however Khalid returns with his second full-length offering. The follow-up to American Teen arrives in stores today, here's everything you need to know about Khalid's new album Free Spirit...

 

A little background...

Since the release of his debut album, Khalid and his music have been popping up all over the place, featuring on the soundtracks to movies including teen comedy-drama Love, Simon and Marvel hit Black Panther, as well as on TV series such as Grey's Anatomy. He's also appeared as a guest artist on various tracks over the last couple of years, including Benny Blanco's 'Eastside' and Logic's '1-800-273-8255', the latter earning a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year.

The Suncity EP, named in homage to his hometown of El Paso, Texas, arrived in October last year, just four months before the announcement of his second album and the release of its lead-off single 'Talk', both of which came in February this year. Alongside the album announcement came news of a short film, also called Free Spirit and directed by Emil Nava, which is made its debut this week.

 

Who's producing it?

Khalid has recruited a wealth of production talent for his sophomore LP, including Charlie Handsome, Hit-Boy, D'Mile, Norwegian production team Stargate and Disclosure pair Howard & Guy Lawrence.

 

Any special guests?

Just a couple, with John Mayer putting in an appearance on 'Outta My Head' and Drake collaborator SAFE popping up on 'Don't Pretend'.

 

What does it sound like?

If you enjoyed the soulful, brooding R&B of his debut then you'll be pleased to know that there's plenty more of that on offer here. The pop influence that was so clearly an influence on American Teen's opening title track isn't quite as prevalent on the majority of Free Spirit and even on tracks that lean in that direction, such as 'My Bad', it's still the R&B vibe that dominates.

There are exceptions to that rule, though, especially the guitar-led bonus track 'Saturday Nights', which first popped up on last year's EP, while standouts include the Disclosure-produced single 'Talk' (which is much more in Khalid's lane than Disclosure's) and the towering slow jam 'Self'.

 

Does it deliver?

Free Spirit isn't some giant, groundbreaking leap forwards from his debut album, but that doesn't really seem to be the intention. Instead, the new album sees Khalid honing and perfecting the skills he used to great effect on American Teen, branching out here and there into new territory without ever really diving in headfirst. That might disappoint some people, but if you're a fan who's just looking for another album-sized helping of the soulful R&B he delivered on his debut, then you'll find plenty to like on Free Spirit.

 

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