I Meant To Listen To: Khalid, “Free Spirit”

When I first started this blog I had come up with twenty-six albums to listen to so I can re-examine them and how they become a part of my life. At the time I came up with this idea, the letter K was not designated for Khalid. In fact, I had at least two different artists in mind before I finally made my decision to review Free Spirit.

What changed my mind? For once I can thank Boston’s horrible traffic.

It was a typical spring day in Boston where it is either shockingly warm and beautiful or it is gloomy and grey with some sort of precipitation looming in the air. For the sake of this story, it was one of those latter days. It was one of those days where you can never time the windshield wipers to sync with the falling rain. In the sea of traffic moving inches at a time on the Zakim Bridge, I was able to better take in the sights of the city. To my right was the TD Garden, home of the Celtics and Bruins and other touring attractions. In recent years, the venue had a video screen installed displaying the upcoming events. One of the concerts advertised was for Khalid.

I had heard of Khalid, but in the sense that he was playing one of a dozen festivals throughout the country. I had no idea that he would be able to play a venue that holds twenty thousand people. I definitely flip-flopped in whether or not I would even to listen to him, but the fact he was playing in the same arena as the Boston Celtics definitely piqued my interest.

I am so happy I downloaded this album.

I figured I’d listen to his latest offering first. To be honest, I haven’t even gone back to his (relatively) older offerings because Free Spirit is an absolute joy to listen to. Immediately catching the same vibes from artists like Anderson.Paak and Frank Ocean, Khalid is in complete command of his voice and vision and I have had this album on constant rotation for the last month or so.

The tracks on Free Spirit showcase Khalid as an artist who is mature far beyond his years. Musically, there are moments on this album that are vibrantly beautiful and cinematic. It basically felt like a soundtrack to a coming-of-age film, but in this film we are living it in real time.

Songs such as like “My Bad” and “Outta My Head” are performed so smooth and effortlessly that it is hard to believe that this is the masterwork of a 21-year old. But for me, the absolute highlight on this album of seemingly instant classics is the track “Hundred“. It is a song that truly defies trends and genre. The song is almost always playing over my speakers and I have my fingers crossed that other artists that I adore will be covering this song for years to come.

That is what makes this album so fascinating. It really has the makings of becoming an essential and required listen in an era of easily disposable music. There is certainly nothing to discredit here. Free Spirit is something that can withstand the test of time.

With all due respect to the other artists I had originally decided to listen to for this little blog, my personal awakening to Khalid was something I needed to write about. Not only has Free Spirit become on of my favorite albums of 2019, Khalid is on my short list of artists that will command my attention moving forward.

Again, thanks to the horrible traffic that day, I now have an album that I will forever fall back on.

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