Caring for khalid | Bangkok Post: lifestyle

At the tender age of 20, Texas native Khalid Donnel Robinson — better known as Khalid — has already carved out a space for himself in today’s pop landscape.

Chanun Poomsawai

His ascent began back in 2016 when he dropped Location, his debut single that went on to be certified multi-platinum not only in the US, but also in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The following years saw the release of his well-received debut LP,

American Teen, followed by a handful of collaborations with an eclectic range of artists from Shawn Mendes and Martin Garrix to Lorde and Post Malone.

As this year draws to a close, Khalid hopes to expand on the success of his debut with a f ollow-up EP, Suncity. Inspired by his hometown of El Paso, the seven-track EP captures his roots and his experience as a young adult and successful pop star with admirable honesty. Fitting, then, that he chose to kick things off with

9.13, an opening interlude that features an audio recording of the ceremony where he was presented the key to the city of El Paso from then-mayor Dee Margo.

The trap-inflected ballad Vertigo finds him wishing that “living life was easy” and dealing with the kind of growing pains we all can relate to. Set to laid-back acoustic melodies, Saturday Nights depicts a seemingly typical weekend for most teenagers (“Rolling OCBs on the side for me/ Light ‘em up and let ‘em both burn”) before revealing a truth that’s far darker (“But daddy’s gone, say he’s never home/ And wishing only makes it worse”).

Khalid’s uncertainty in life is addressed on Salem Interlude, which contains a confessional voice message that touches upon universal anxieties (“I’m fearful of failure … I feel like I’m not always in the correct direction/ Even though I know I’m on the right path”). The last three tracks, The Weeknd-esque Motion, Better and the lite-reggae title track (featuring Empress Of ), clearly cater to the pop charts, which means they don’t really offer much in the way of innovation.

Quotable lyrics: “I was happy, I was young/ I’ve been learning, I’ve been growing/ But the worst is yet to come” ( Vertigo).

Listen to this: Vertigo, Saturday Nights, Salem Interlude

The Playlist

Neneh Cherry / Synchronised Devotion

“Slow j am/ Coming with memory/ Don’t live for nostalgia/ But the impact of everything resonates,” the opening verse of Neneh Cherry’s latest single from her new album, Broken Politics, speaks to us on a profoundly spiritual level. A follow-up to the equally affecting singles Kong, Shot Gun Shack and Natural Skin Deep, Synchronised Devotion finds the shape-shifting Swedish artist in a contemplative mood, softly singing against the lullaby-like backdrop of piano and vibraphone. Then, as if to justify her artistic choice, she further elaborates: “It’s my politics living in the slow jam/ Playful, supreme/ Delightful, hateful/ Play with me.” The rest of the song unfurls like a thrilling novella as she goes from a selfintroduction (“I’m a Pisces hanging from the vine/ Live it out a day at a time”) to a cryptic denouement (“You can take me to the Garden of Eden/ Lead me there/ And see me play”).

How To Dress Well / Body Fat

After an innovative build-up in the form of two short connected suites Land Of The Overflowing Urn and Nonkilling 6 | Hunger, R&B experimentalist Tom Krell, aka How To Dress Well, has finally unveiled his fifth studio record, The Anteroom. Dubbed “a single continuous piece of 21st-century psychedelic music”, the album boasts a more conceptual approach to Krell’s brand of lo-fi R&B. Its latest cut, Body Fat, serves up a blend of ethereal gospel-pop and what could perhaps be pinpointed as minimal techno. “No matter all your alchemy/ The past will call you back/ There’s still so much pain and anger/ In your body fat,” he croons in a falsetto so fragile and unbound by the production.

Jon Bryant / Cultivated

To be honest, we hadn’t heard of Canadian singer-songwriter Jon Bryant until recently, when his song Cultivated somehow got shuffled by our Spotify. A happy coincidence, then, because the song has all the makings of a solid indierock tune: crisp, addictive guitar groove, whispers of synths and Bryant’s singing voice, which reminds us of indie luminaries like Broken Bells’ James Mercer. “I’m sinking down to the depths of the ocean/ I’m hangin’ on to the weight of my love … But now I’m waking from the silence, when you scream,” he ruminates on toxic relationships based on his own experience of being in a cult (!).

John Legend & Wendy / Written In The Stars

This week’s unexpected duet goes to Written In The Stars, a collaboration between American R&B crooner John Legend and K-pop sensation Wendy of Red Velvet. Released as part of SM Entertainment’s Station X 0 collaboration series, the soaring English-language track follows in the footsteps of ‘90s R&B ballads, which is no bad thing considering that both parties have the pipes to pull it off. The song marks the project’s fifth collaboration, following efforts by EXO’s Baekhyun and Loco, MeloMance and Taeyeon, and Chanyeol and Sehun.

Solitude Is Bliss / Luke

Solitude Is Bliss have just released a music video for Luke, one of their contributions to Nok Kra Johk, a brilliant 14-track compilation showcasing seven emerging acts from Chiang Mai-based label Minimal Records. Here, the alt-rock quintet keep things on the lighter side (at least sonically) with jaunty keys and grooving guitars. Meanwhile, frontman/ guitarist Thanaphol Chumkhammool has, to date, penned the best English lyrics of his entire career: “Are you insane to blame anyone who’s sad?/ Are you in vain to blame anyone who’s mad?/ I got some cash, just a tad/ Try to survive in the material world.”