By Zach Hester

If you haven’t heard of Khalid yet, the 21-year-old soulful icon, you must not have turned on the radio any time in the last two years. Since debuting his first record “American Teen”, Khalid has blown up across the world, especially with chart-topping singles like “Love Lies”, “Young, Dumb and Broke” and my personal favorite, “Location.”

Khalid returns with his sophomore effort “Free Spirit” and boy, does it feel free. You can tell that this record is really what he wants to produce into the music world and its authentically him.

Two years later, Khalid still has one of my favorite voice timbres in modern music. He slides from a groovy tone and runs into a deep, full bass that gives you the perfect chills across your forearms across the record. This low register that I’m so fond of is best expressed in “Self” and “Bluffin’.” The earlier one addresses an inward reflection theme that comes across in it as well as my favorite track, “Alive.”

My main issue with the record isn’t that it doesn’t contain enough good songs, it’s that it has too many mediocre ones. The album is 17 tracks strong, which is fine, but if you’re going to make a long record, then every song needs to feel necessary. It doesn’t here.

While the follow up to his 2017 success isn’t quite as catchy, it does look into deeper themes than the ones established in “American Teen” and has a great collaboration with John Mayer. The transition into maturity feels natural for Khalid, because he, of course, has aged out of his teenage years and now sells out arenas instead of the small venues. The growth is definitely here in “Free Spirit” in several tracks, but unfortunately, plenty of it feels too much like filler.

  • Best Songs: Talk, Hundred, Free Spirit, Alive
  • Rating: ★★★