A Great Big World • When The Morning Comes • Epic • Release Date: 11.13.15
It’s sad when a Grammy doesn’t elevate one’s commercial stature, isn’t it? That’s the case for hella talented singer/songwriting pop duo A Great Big World (Chad King and Ian Axel). AGBW landed a Grammy statuette for gargantuan hit, “Say Something” featuring Christina Aguilera, hailing from their debut album Is There Anybody Out There.
Album numero dos, When The Morning Comes has received quite the underrated, underappreciated start, debuting tepidly on the Billboard 200. Blame it on so-so promotion or the loaded week (Justin Bieber and One Direction were among newbies contending for the top), but regardless, album sales don’t determine the greatness of an album ultimately. When The Morning Comes is a fine album through and through that nobody should sleep on.
Let’s start with the attention getting elephant in the room, “Hold Each Other.” Everything else aside, it’s an exceptionally well-written, memorable song without question. Yes, Chad King’s love interest is male and he has referenced this song as “a big coming out song for me,” but does/should it really matter?
NO! Why – because this song is honest, authentic, and SHOULD be relatable to everyone, regardless of their sexual preference. If anything, “Hold Each Other” is not getting the love it deserves, just like it’s parent album. Which version is better – the one with rapper Futuristic or the duo only version? That’s personal preference, but purists will likely dig the Chad and Ian version.
There’s more to When The Morning Comes than just “Hold Each Other.” “All I Want Is Love” initiates things superbly, benefiting from poised verses and a more dynamic refrain. The contrast and sheer chemistry of Axel and King’s voices is amazing. HEY, ALL THEY WANT IS LOVE MAN!
“Kaleidoscope” amplifies the groove, giving AGBW a more fun, easygoing record if nothing else. Keeping things interesting is “End of the World,” which definitely sounds different from anything on the duo’s debut album. Hey, can you ever go wrong with a six-eight soulfully driven pop song? NO…Never!
After the first installment of “Hold Each Other,” “Oasis” keeps the hits on coming, as the duo thoughtfully sing, “When we’re lost in a desert night / and we’re chasing our paradise / when we can’t fight another fight / we’re gonna make it / you’re my oasis.” “Come On” follows, losing no momentum, finding the boys flexing – musically of course!
Obviously, after “coming on,” they “Won’t Stop Running” and don’t! “Won’t Stop Running” magnificently blends pop with a dash of urban flavor. Those stomping drums though! And let’s not even start on the awesome vocal production…swoon worthy! (P.S. falsetto alert!)
Just when you thought the big piano driven track wasn’t going to happen, then comes “One Step Ahead” to fill the gap. It doesn’t remain solo accompanied by piano as rhythmic acoustic guitars and lush strings make things even sweeter. By the conclusion, “One Step Ahead” fully blooms.
The rest of When The Morning Comes continues to allure. “The Future’s Right In Front of Me” isn’t necessarily ‘brand new’ in modus operandi, but that doesn’t hinder inhibit it. Title track “When the Morning Comes” is well put together without supplanting the best moments, while penultimate number “Where Does the Time Go” is chilling, introspective, and stunning. It’s followed by the closing, duet only version of “Hold Each Other.”
Just how good is When The Morning Comes? It’s among the best albums of 2015. This is how you make a pop album folks. It’s consistent, thoughtful, and excellent executed through and through. Weaknesses are few and far between. While the sales aren’t in AGBW’s court, vocally and musically, they’ve “raised the bar” by all means.
Favorites: “Kaleidoscope,” “Hold Each Other,” “Oasis,” “Won’t Stop Running” and “One Step Ahead”