Have you ever imagined what if you go back to the era full of classical music? At that time, the sound of music was nearly completed by composers, and the audience enjoyed the process of sensing the emotions hid in every riff, melody, and inverted chord. For composers, they could express all of their thoughts, emotions, and imaginations by the composition of pitches and rhythms, and they did have an obsessed audience to decode and de-structure the works based on their abilities of music appreciation.
My recent experience of visiting a gallery by accident sparked my discovery in the difference between the evolvement of music and fine arts. Mr. Jeffrey Terreson, the owner and only artist in this studio, told me that although sometimes he still creates realistic paintings to make money, his favorite has always been contemporary arts. He often spends big blocks of time shaping the uncountable chunks of dried oil paint to visualize his emotions and inspirations more directly on the boards.
Thinking of the modern songs with coming-in lyrics, I have a very complex feeling because the creation of music seems going in the opposite direction against the evolvement of fine arts. In other words, this is an era dominated by music accompanied with lyrics, so that songwriters can write music with a foundational assumption and the audience get to understand a piece of work with the narration of lyrics. What a similar realistic bound course they are walking on.
So how is this analogy relevant to the album review for When the Morning Comes by A Great Big World? I would say the high quality of melody writing in this album broke through the pattern that the survival of a song relies much on memorable and catchy lyrics. Instead, they appear to shuttle into the gate of the old times of classical music and blend all of their emotions and narrations into every element in their pure music. They’re just like a master in the contemporary abstractionist painting, applying counter-intuitive shapes and mediums to describe what they saw and mirrored.
Three years ago, Say Something featured Christina Aguilera directly picked their career up to the peak, which very few talented artists can reach during the release of a debut album. And we clearly see how the duo’s tone sound like throughout the complete performance of the debut work – Is There Anybody Out There – they are so good at piano ballads and creating cute vibes in their songs. However, A Great Big World successfully assured me of their fantastic talent in songwriting because of the album. Whether megastar Coldplay or legendary Taylor Swift, they hadn’t made their own ways to a different land of music until the artist career seemed running stable. To my surprise, the second album When the Morning Comes sounds so “anti-AGBW,” but this one still fantastically works out.
So what does this transformation of music mean for a singer-songwriter? I would say it indicates that there are the best traces to infer that how the artists are potential on the songwriting and cross-genre creation, and this is where exactly the beauty of music exists – be different, be advanced, be influential. And AGBW already showcased their crystal clear potential in the music creation. Compared to Is There Anybody Out There, When the Morning Comes conveyed more power in the heart of one optimist, which is ideally consistent with the theme within this chunk of works – they transition themselves as idealists into the realists who have persistence and faith to approach their dreams constantly. And they make it happen that you did experience the flows of intangible power flooding toward you and embrace you tightly while listening to their music.
Though there is still big space to make progress in the structure of a song and the design of vibes in post-production, A Great Big World already put a lot of surprises we didn’t expect in these songs. A 50-second performance of rap in the third verse of “Hold Each Other,” and the expansive, stretchy verses written in “Won’t Stop Running” build your visual reality. When your roller coaster crawls up to the highest point, you’re waiting for a deep breath and a difference on the next trail. The sudden changes in their melodies get to catch you off guard and impress your mind and leave a mark.
When you pay attention to the backing sounds in the most of the songs, whether songs for voicing love “All I Want Is Love“” Kaleidoscope,” or the anthem for faith – “Come On” “When the Morning Comes” and “The Future’s Right in Front of Me” – what you can strongly sense is that they are ecstatic but with less percussion, they are positive but with no noisy voicing. With the fast guitar riffs, colorful backing vocals and firmly vibrations made in the piano’s body, the duo successfully find AGBW-style groove and pace in their music and express the inner energy about to blow out. I bet you will be touched, you will feel resonated, and this is the magic originated from their high-level songwriting skills.
If you know very well about their debut Album Is There Anybody Out There, You must agree with how epic piano ballads they can produce all the time. No exception for a second AGBW. I would say the lyrics of Ian and Chad’s are not poetic-oriented, but the lyricism bled out from their pens is still beautifully pure and earthy. “One Step Ahead,” what a warm connection between two uneasily beating hearts. “Where Does the Time Go,” it feels like your beloved people tenderly whispers by your ears, telling you “let’s hang on the moments we are in.”
As I objectively commented, its production is not so flawless. However, two songs in this album can exhibit that they do have the instinct to jump on the top of simple songwriting – make it a piece of art, and it will stand the multiple lenses of artistic judges. The production of “Oasis” used the most elements over the other ones – from piano to drum to strings, from single channel to choir – but it’s a flawless combination: crisp sounds of music painted the alive oasis with water against the spectacularly endless world folded and extended by vivacious choir. “End of the World” is the most wildly daring song among their entire works, I firmly recommend. A Song built upon 3/4time tempo, the most romantic pattern in music, wherein the flame of burning love appears more dazzling against the darkest vibes realized by the post production.