Give or Take by Giveon | Album Review
Reviewing the debut album of the modern soul singer
I had a chance to review this album for Line of Best Fit upon its release, but due to a word limit, I don’t think I could analyze and explain fully how I feel about the album as I can here. I didn’t do this album justice. There are a few important points that will carry over from my original review plus a few more after a handful of listens over the past couple of days. That being said, Give or Take, Giveon’s debut studio album, is truly a focus and revival of traditional soul music. It feels like you could drop this album in the 80s and 90s and it would be perfectly okay. There aren’t very mainstream artist that are tackling this genre in stride while paying reverence to its roots and succeeding.
The album is bookended by the artist’s mother, who is beyond proud of him, and almost shapes a secondary narrative that plays alongside the main themes of emotional maturity and moving on. Give or Take is swooning, personal, emotional, and deep — just what you would expect after hit single, “Heartbreak Anniversary”. Despite his already massive popularity, his first couple of projects, even though combined into a singular “album”, aren’t considered as such. So, this is the first official full length album from Giveon. I have fallen deeper and deeper into this album with each listen and I feel like I discover something else I like every time.
The intro, “Let Me Go”, feels authentic in its intentional throwback style, down to the instrumentals, sections of a phone call/voicemail, and a focus on gliding along to the addicting melody that also benefits from a modern hip-hop/trap approach with meddling bass. This is one of the songs that really sticks out to me — it feels like it could be a top 5 song for the artists discography. Additionally, it introduces the mindset of the album. We see Giveon elevate from toxic heartthrob to responsible and matured lover throughout and that alone is worth the listen.
I mistakenly said that there weren’t any “bangers” in this album. This isn’t true. Along with the first song, “Tryna Be” and “Another Heartbreak” truly shine and make for a beautiful listen. It is also worth noting that with my advance copy of the album, I didn’t fully hear the nuance of the production. Meaning, the way we hear it on streaming platforms benefits from dynamic sound, crossfading, automatically going to the next track, etc. Now that I hear it through the streaming scope, it is a bit easier to listen to holistically and as such, review it more thoroughly. I’m not ashamed to admit that I didn’t appreciate this album enough upon my first listen.
Give or Take is a culmination of Giveon’s experience of the past couple of years following his massive success. You can quite literally hear the difference between this project and the last. Where in the past, it felt like an artist almost greedily chasing success and love through toxic innuendo; presently, we take a step back and evaluate on how that success has effected him and how he grows from it. This is emphasized through a couple of different mediums. Most obviously and notably, the expansion of an already impressive vocal range. Songs like “Get To You”, and especially, “Lost Me”, fully showcase an impressive range that a friend described as “baritenor”. The usual baritone that Giveon so aptly captures is well complemented by the production and with the introduction of soaring higher pitch, his vocal repertoire is astonishing.
Secondly, as many of other albums have done recently, an intensely emotional and personal experience is lain to life through the music. In my other review, I stated that most of the album builds up to the lead single, but now I feel that is dismissive of the rest of the album. “Another Heartbreak” feels like the opus that the album was building up to, where the artist laments and candidly describes the fear of yet another heartbreak — a Giveon signature. Ultimately, this work can be summed up with the intro to “Get to You”:
“the last one was me kinda pushing her away / this one is me saying I’m ready”
It’s not often we get to see growth in real time. This not only applies to singing ability but performance along with the emotional aspects of dealing with fame. Giveon’s performance at Coachella was stellar and was probably his best to date. It honestly got me excited to be crushed by this album when it was announced not too long after. One thing I love about this artist is that he always feel genuine. That isn’t always the case with some artist, but with Giveon, you can feel the longing, the pain, the emotion, in his voice and know it’s coming from real experiences. From Take Time to Give Or Take, this is a sign of longevity in a world hyperaware of the next big thing and quick hits.
The growth both mentally, emotionally, and vocally create for a truly captivating listen that’ll leave you with either tears streaming down your face or some sense of closure — whichever you prefer. In the beauty of his pain, we get to grovel alongside in the product of intimacy, growth, and devotion. I could only put whole numbers in the original review, though it sat low eights. I can say after a few listens, it has gone up a good amount, very close to low nines, though most comfortably in the high eights.
Favorite Tracks: Get To Me, Tryna Be, Another Heartbreak
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