“'Cause we're way too in love, just to fuck and let go
'Cause we're way too involved, just to cut and not call"
The pre-chorus to “Deep” was the first time I ever her Summer Walker sing. I was talking to someone before I popped my headphones in and heard the song playing on a podcast. I purchased the song moments later and waited for more music.
What attracted me was how she managed to get the emotion of the song in 90 seconds, and that was it. Considering that the average length of a song is twice that, producing something so short but so powerful is hard. Less is more is the theme of the album Last Day of Summer, and with a runtime under 30 mins, Summer Walker proves she is up to the challenge.
BP: I might repeat myself a few times in the review, but short and to the point is key in the execution of Summer Walker’s album. Many of the songs sound like poems set to music, minus the classic spoken word style. “BP” is aimed at the materialistic guys who think their value is linked to what they are worth. Arsenio Archer produced a sweet dreamy beat for this one and it builds up nicely at the end into the skit “Talk Yo Shit”. Which itself is about how a woman can be as lustful as men.
Girls Need Love: Summer uses this track to address that women need that loving too, and it doesn’t have to be that Cupid’s arrow type of love. It can be that Aphrodite-inspired sex, that “Won't you be my plug aye” sex but the interesting part is it seems to also be about actual love, which she covers up with the whole lustful skit segue. I think the best part of this song is not being sure or that it could be taken either way and you end up having to re-listen a few times, hoping you figure it out.
CPR: Either Summer has the best ear for finding beats that complement her vocals, or the producers all got her vibe and made amazing tracks, OR her voice works on anything. This Gambi produced track is smooooth. The first few bars before the beat drop sound like the ambient music you might hear in a luxury hotel elevator, and I mean that as a compliment. Which is weird because you would think that is a bad thing, but it wasn’t. It was actually interesting to hear it and once the bass line kicks in with Summer’s vocals, it all changes. The way in a dream from one moment to another things can change drastically, they managed to do that with a song.
Smartwater: Possibly the first time I didn’t love a song on the album, simply enjoyed it. I think I was trying too hard to figure out what this one was about, coupled with finding the beat just ok… I feel like the track is well placed though, since the next track is my favorite and was the first single.
Deep: I won’t say too much since I already touched on the track at the top. “Deep” is short, but beautiful. Arsenio Archer beat, stripped down to basics, with Summer’s layered melodic vocal styling. It almost felt like a 1 take, perfect storm.
Baby: Another track that adds credibility to my poems to music theory. The track is only 1 verse, it’s 90 seconds again, but Summer only starts singing 20 seconds in. It sounds almost like the demo to an unfinished song. Something not everyone might enjoy but I wasn’t mad at it. Quality over quantity.
I’m There: One of best things about all the tracks on this album is how the beats evolve. “I’m There” starts out kind of like the music in an abandoned haunted hall of mirrors, and once Summer starts singing, you feel more at ease. By the end, it has a new vibe that manages to blend the elements of a slightly creepy instrumental into a hot R&B track.
Karma: Once upon a time someone got their heart hurt by someone else, and that person went on to hurt their next partner because it felt good to pass on their frustration… and so goes the world of Karmic love. Summer’s whole cold vibe works well, weirdly I think it should have gone after the next song “Prayed Up”, which had the “colder” production “Karma”
Prayed Up: I feel like this track should come with instructions: 1) Close your eyes 2) Take in whatever comes to mind when you hear the lyrics and feel the beat 3) Ride the wave and breath 4) Feel your heart sync up with the beat. 5) Repeat, ‘cause you will want to. Took me 3 listens to move on to the following track.
Shame: There are points on this track where the beat is so low, I almost wish they went full acapella. Nothing wrong with what the producer Thym was trying to do or did. I felt that it was produced with the idea that Summer’s vocals would take over and instead of stepping aside, the beat is whispering in the back. It works, but I think Summer could have carried it solo. Felt like a safety net, she didn’t need in that moment.
Just Like Me: I hate doing this, I know artist work hard to have their own voices and comparing them to someone else is often more offensive than anything, but I have to be honest about what I heard, and I swear I thought this could have been a lost Amy Winehouse track. I know Amy was influenced by Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, and Lauryn Hill. So, if anything the track sounds like something Summer wrote with all of them in mind but when it came to the production, the instrumentation, the energy and overall production on the track, Arsenio Archer may have been tapping into his Salaam Remi bag.
I was part of a conversation recently about whether an artist was Neo Soul or “Alternative” R&B, and I thought to myself why did it need to be classified. and more importantly why are the two exclusive. Summer Walker is an example of that whole debate being moot. She has the R&B chops, her production is on a Neo Soul tip and at the end of the day her music is deep. Summer made an album that managed to make me think and feel without getting that physically stressed. It can be the love making soundtrack as easily as it can be the break up album, you get to decide or use it for both. Last Day of Summer came just in time to help you through the long nights of winter and I don’t even mean that in a cliché way.