Music Review - July 2023

by BTM

Mon, 03 July 2023

bahrain music review July 2023

Ed Sheeran SubtractEd Sheeran Subtract

Verdict: Another smash hit from the superstar.

What’s the story? 
- (Subtract) is the sixth studio album by English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. A mostly acoustic album, production was handled by Aaron Dessner on every track, alongside Fred Again, Max Martin and Shellback. Sheeran and Dessner wrote more than 30 songs together during a month-long studio session, which was eventually cut down to the album’s fourteen tracks. - (Subtract) serves as the final mathematical-themed album by Sheeran.

Worth a listen? 
Even if - (Subtract) wasn’t the predestined title for the last of Ed Sheeran’s mathematic titles, the name would suit the haunted 2023 album. Absence hangs heavy over the record, perhaps the inevitable result of the singer/songwriter coming through a period where he fought a plagiarism lawsuit over his hit ‘Thinking Out Loud’, supported his wife as she discovered a cancerous tumour during her second pregnancy and saw the death of his close friend Jamal Edwards. A tender touch when combined with a preponderance of ballads turns - (Subtract) into a curiously recessive album; its emotions are raw, but its execution is reserved. Ultimately, that means - (Subtract) provides a sense of comfort that’s possibly accidental, even at his darkest moments.

This album is called Gag Order because Kesha feels she’s been restricted in her speech due to her ongoing litigation with her former producer Dr. Luke. Those lawsuits prevented her from speaking directly about the events at the root of her personal trauma, so she winds up writing around the problem on the album, focusing on the emotional aftermath instead of the instigating events. Given the anger and sadness roiling in her psyche – feelings only intensified during the isolation of Covid-19 – it’s not surprising that Gag Order is a twisted ball of fury and sorrow. Her inner turmoil is conveyed through washes of electronics, contorted Auto-Tunes, spectral samples and a keening performance from Kesha, whose passion cuts against the dour atmosphere. 

Having delivered their comeback with ease, the Jonas Brothers were faced with a difficult prospect: they needed to keep the good times rolling. To that end, they decided to ditch many of the collaborators from their last album and supplement the frothy melodies with bright, soulful grooves that split the difference between disco and retro-minded modern revivals. It’s a fleet, sleek sound that helps draw attention to the trio’s natural effervescence without seeming especially sugary. It does seem tailored for the sunshine, with the record sounding like it was made with relaxation in mind; it’s all shimmering soft rock and tempered disco. 

Alison Goldfrapp’s voice, songwriting and very name are so intertwined with her wide-ranging body of work with Will Gregory as Goldfrapp that it makes establishing her identity as a solo artist uniquely difficult. Fortunately, her first album on her own proves she’s up to the challenge. Instead of striving to make a deeply serious set of songs – as many bandmembers do when they go solo – on The Love Invention, she offers her listeners a chance to dance their cares away with some of the most direct and euphoric music of her career. Her respect for the power of the groove results in one of her most cohesive projects, and one that makes the dance floor that much classier with its presence.