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Brave, smart, sweet and bolder
Lovestrong - Christina Perri
Member Name: dawnmarywhite
Lovestrong - Christina Perri
Advantages: Beautiful voice, interesting lyrics
Disadvantages: Not enough fast paced songs
Christina Perri is a 25 year old singer/songwriter from Philadelphia, USA who has been writing songs since she was just 15. For me, she literally came out of nowhere. I wondered where this girl had been hiding! I heard her song Jar of Hearts on the radio; at some points throughout the song, I thought she sounded a bit like Avril Lavigne (voice, not style) but after forming a thorough opinion I can safely say that Avril has nothing on this girl, though some of the things they can do with their voices are somewhat similar. I had no idea who it was until I Googled some of the lyrics, and a short hop round YouTube later I was in love. This same song is the one which rocketed her to fame, while she was waitressing to support herself, after it was featured on the USA show So You Think You Can Dance?. It was later featured on Glee also.
~~~~~~ Lovestrong ~~~~~~
Her debut album Lovestrong was released 2011 on Atlantic, and to anyone who listens the theme of broken love, broken hearts and broken promises is evident. Some may argue that the album is samey, there is very little deviation from this theme. Christina herself says "I looked at the album as a whole piece and the two themes that stood out were love and strength...It really titled itself. Writing about love is just who I am. I've tried to write about other things, but ultimately this is what comes out of me."
However Christina, at the tender age she still is, already has a failed marriage behind her. Perhaps she really does know what it's like. It's no crime to write what you know, especially when the result is so utterly breathtaking in its simplicity. The lyrics are clever, but nothing groundbreaking in all honesty. What they are though, is genuine, heartfelt and filled to the brim with emotion. Not only the words but how they are given to us by that voice.
With the wide success of Jar of Hearts, I think it is important to step back and give the whole album a fair chance. 'Jar of Hearts' is a truly incredible song but, for me, it is not the one that shines the most on the album.
I bought this from iTunes so can't really comment on the artwork and liner notes. The cover of the Jar of Hearts single was very attractive though so I would guess, given her style, that the liner notes would be nice to look at. The front cover of Lovestrong is quite plain, just a photo of Christina in black and white. Nothing spectacular but nothing offensive (unless you hate tattooed girls!).
~~~~~~ Availability ~~~~~~
iTunes, hmv.com and Play.com - £7.99; Amazon - £7.97 (CD), £7.49 (MP3). It has been cropping up on eBay a lot, with 99p start auctions and £1.25 max P&P, so worth keeping on eye out. hmv.com and Play.com both offer free UK delivery.
Christina's YouTube channel can be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/lovemspenny
~~~~~ Tracks ~~~~~~
Most of the tracks are relatively short, with few reaching over 4 minutes. I don't feel the songs are missing anything but a lot of them do seem to end abruptly. I quite like this though as it leaves me eagerly awaiting the next one starting, rather than feeling anything is dragging along. There is not a single track I skip when listening to this album and I can listen to it over and over again (and in fact I have hence I know every word to every song!)
--- 1. Bluebird (3:49)
Opening the album and setting the tone is Bluebird. With the opening line of "How the hell does a broken heart get back together when it's torn apart?" you get a pretty good idea of what this song, and indeed the album, is about. Christina's voice is soft with a gentle piano tune in the background. This song is both melancholy and uplifting and I think it's a good choice as an opener. From the beginning to the end, it is a pretty gentle song.
--- 2. Arms (4:21)
This was the leading single for the album, an excellent choice in my opinion. Christina shows off her soaring voice in this one. Again, starting with the focus purely on her voice. The melody is subtle and it really matches the tone of the vocals, and how they change in tempo and pitch. Lines like "I can't decide if I'll let you save my life, or if I'll drown" tell a story of a confused girl, but one with a lot of hope. This is one of my favourite songs, I just love the feel of it. It's urgent and defiant at parts and pleading in others.
--- 3. Bang Bang Bang (3:05)
This is the first upbeat and playful song on the album, and the album title can be found in the opening line "All my life you know I haven't been very lovestrong". The story of the song is familiar, but the feel of it is very different. Christina sounds much happier and self assured in this one. It is much faster paced and less ballad-y, showing her voice in a different way altogether. I think it's a good choice for track 3 as it brings the mood up and I challenge anyone to resist singing along with this one after a couple of listens!
--- 4. Distance (3:56)
This song is heartbreaking. It tells the story of a couple resigned to lying, trying to save what they have and not knowing how the other feels the same - "I'll try to keep my distance, say I love you when you're not listening, how long can we keep this up?" Christina's vocals are backed by one of her male band members and the contrast between the two is stunning. A really beautiful sounding song, again her voice shines and the accompanying music is just utterly perfect.
--- 5. Jar of Hearts (4:06)
This is the single that put Christina Perri on the map. The song is generally quite controlled for the most part, with soulful piano music and Christina injecting just the right amount of emotion into certain parts, making it very powerful; I really feel the pain in this song, all the broken promises and how she has struggled to fight against it, and ultimately won. I really recommend watching the video for this song as it tells so much more of the story, and is visually stunning too.
--- 6. Mine (3:33)
The opening bars of this song make me smile. It's very upbeat and jumpy. When the vocals come in they are so perfectly in tune with the music (or perhaps it's vice versa!) This is another I can't resist tapping my foot to. "What might you do...to find out why....I can't love you" Followed by a very definite, almost shouting repetition of "I can't love you" tells us this story has ended. I think the overall tone of this song is very much 'Listen to me, I have made up my mind!' It's a nice contrast to some of the other tracks where Christina sounds far less sure of herself and in a bit of turmoil.
--- 7. Interlude (0:50)
This is a 50 second long lyric-less tune. It is very peaceful, but haunting. I do think it serves its purpose as a useful interlude before moving onto the latter part of the album, which is in my opinion tinged with more palpable darkness in some tracks than the first half.
--- 8. Penguin (4:36)
This is a comical, touching and memorable song about soulmates and fate. This is a showcase if ever there was one for Christina's voice. A slow, gentle guitar plays in the background, complimenting the breathtaking vocals. There are no drums or bass or anything else in this one but some tinkling piano notes toward the end. The song makes me smile from ear to ear and the message is just nice. There's not enough in life that's just nice. "Baby we're fate, baby it's fate....not luck".
--- 9. Miles (4:04)
Possibly my favourite of the album. A heartfelt plea for true love and acceptance. "Kiss me on my shoulder, tell me it's not over, I promise to always come home to you. Remind me that I'm older, to be brave, smart, sweet and bolder, and don't give up on what we're trying to do - don't count the miles, count the I love yous.....proud of me, that's all I want you to be, look at me and love what you see" We are brought back to the insecure girl who just wants it to all turn out alight.
--- 10. The Lonely (3:53)
One of the darkest and saddest songs on the album. This one sounds like a story of the loneliest girl there ever was. "The ghost of a girl that I want to be most, the shell of a girl that I used to know well". I love the lyrics, I really get the loneliness encroaching and how it affects and taints everything she does. There is a lot of strong imagery in this song for me and it is unforgettable. Despite the darkness though it is a joy to listen to. Again Christina's voice is just flawless, though very emotional.
--- 11. Sad Song' (4:29)
For a sad song, this has a bit of an upbeat tune to the chorus. It's like a rebellion. Opening with "Today I'm going to write a sad song, going to make it really long, so that everyone can see I'm really unhappy". It does sound like self pity, but it's a lovely song with gorgeous vocals. The story of this song is about growing up and having to deal with all it entails. The latter half of the song has a catchy drumbeat and the apologising chorus takes on an almost mocking feel. She seems to acknowledge she needs more maturity, but wants to grow up slowly and perhaps isn't actually offering a sincere apology for being herself.
--- 12. Tragedy (4:39)
Referring to a relationship as a tragedy, this song is almost an attack against the other half of the partnership. She forgave and forgot "a thousand times" and she's not doing it again. As with almost every song on this wonderful album her voice is just so strong, and she sounds almost angry at times. This is an excellent closing track to the album. It is reminiscent of the strong person she has become. The music of this song is interesting and quite unusual, I'm not sure how to describe it really! You'll have to listen.
~~~~~~ Overall ~~~~~~
For me, Lovestrong is an exceptional album. I fell in love with this voice as soon as I heard it and it is not diminishing. I feel every song is strong in both sound and lyrical quality; some of the lyrics and turn of phrases I find very unusual, as they are not the sort of expressions used much in songs of this subject matter. Some of them are almost child-like in their innocence and the desire to just be loved, pure and simple comes through. This is not an album of simple love songs though, by any means. These are all songs Christina declared the need to share.
The one criticism I think could be made about this album, is that the songs are all about a common subject, and the overall tempo of many of them is alike. In that regard there is little variation. However, I do not feel at all that it suffers for this. Each song has a completely different sound and I have no trouble distinguishing between tracks - there is no 'samey' here. I would like to hear Christina doing more upbeat, faster, shoutier songs though - Bang Bang Bang is an excellent example of how she can do this type of song every bit as well as the more ballad-y ones and I hope any subsequent releases will have some more tracks of this nature.
I think Christina Perri may appeal to fans of many genres. I am not sure what genre I would even put her in. I've lost track a bit anyway, when I was younger it was just rock, pop, punk, classical and rap. Now there's endless genres and I wouldn't have a clue what half of them even are! Christina is very easy to listen to though, and I really think anyone should give her a try.
"Emotionally, it [recording the album] was the hardest 33 days of my life, but it was worth it because the result is that this album is 100 percent me. It's heartfelt, real, bold, honest, vulnerable, hopeful, strong, poetic, bluesy, gritty, pretty, and simple" - Christina Perri
Couldn't have put it better myself.
*** I know there's a recent review on this, but I have been waiting impatiently to copy this over here since I published it on Ciao on the 14th Oct. I must have suggested it around the same time as the first reviewer and didn't know my suggestion was unsuccessful until now, as I was waiting for the email alert! So apologies to those who hate repeat product reviews! :o) ***
Summary: The girl who came out of nowhere better stick around!