Review Roundup: April 18

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 at 11:21 PM
Review Roundup: April 18 by Livia Homerski & Erica Burkholder

"Absolute Zero" - Bruce Hornsby

This past year, I’ve had the pleasure of diving into the work of pianist and singer-songwriter Bruce Hornsby, so his latest album, “Absolute Zero,” comes as a wonderfully-timed surprise. Whether you recognize Hornsby from his thoughtful ‘86 pop-hit, “The Way It Is,” or as a touring keyboardist with The Grateful Dead from the late ‘80s to mid ‘90s, his musicianship is nothing less than jaw-dropping.

“Absolute Zero” shows off Hornsby’s knack for inventive, intuitive and intelligent music in a time where you think you’ve heard it all.

His collaborations with modern artists Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Rob Moose (yMusic) and famed jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette add just enough variety to the album, the effort melding progressive rock, jazz, funk, and touches of indie acoustic softness without it feeling too alien to other works in Hornsby’s discography.

The LP’s lyrics include scattered poetry about time and science’s interactions with people. The title track especially captures glimpses of the future of humanity through new possibilities like AI and cryogenics, with lyrics like “Memory, identity, on another self-plane, and you will be sustained (With cryo-preservatives).”

It seems like much of “Absolute Zero” ponders the great beyond as Hornsby approaches his later years, but his attitude about it is far from solemn. Between playful lyrics like, “There’s a house somewhere, someday where big dreams come alive/Where I will fly to planets if I ever learn to drive” on “Never In This House,” and the funky riffs that guide us through humanity’s achievements on “Voyager One,” Hornsby still has the same grandiose energy his music has always had.

Perhaps my favorite track is “The Blinding Light of Dreams” because of the discussion of dreams and the divisive fear that lies between America’s past and progression for our future. It reads: “There’s more to safety than dangers you can see/I’ll look out for you if you look out for me/Fear is the root of our family tree.”

The balance between scientific sentiments and intimate feelings highlights “Absolute Zero,” as Hornsby continues to flex his musical mind.  

Standout tracks: “The Blinding Light of Dreams feat. yMusic” & “Voyager.”

Livia Homerski |



"Not Your Princess" - Theia

Theia, real name Em-Haley Walker, is an artist from New Zealand. She first released music in 2015, with the newest collection being her EP, “Not Your Princess.”

The EP features six songs with three of them being released prior, as they earned 1.2 million streams on Spotify, according to her website.

Her sound is a mixture of Halsey and Lorde, but with more electro-pop. Comparisons to Lana Del Rey and MARINA’s “Electra Heart” could be made, but Theia doesn’t have as powerful and soulful vocals.

“Not Your Princess,” the namesake of the album, is a not-so-subtle girl-power anthem with lyrics like, “I am not your princess/Stay out of my business” and “You won’t, you won’t, you won’t, you won’t shame me.” The sound here is similar to a lot of pop today, though the focus on the beat in the background during the slower parts of the track is a nice break from the vocals, giving you time to just jam.

“Honest” is more chilled out and mellow, featuring the instrumentals more than the vocals. The music is a combination of different sounds like clapping and synth scales, which remind you of soft club music.

“Candy” is one of the faster-paced songs and is more dance music, or “pump up” music. A group of girls shout, “We don’t want to be like you” throughout the track. The opening lyrics of “I’m a killer queen/I do my own thing” is reminiscent of 5 Seconds of Summer’s cover of “Killer Queen.”

“Bad Idea” is the song that sounds the most like what’s playing on pop stations today. Slower vocals fade into faster parts of the song, acting as a barrier between lyrics and giving you time to process what was just sung.

This EP is a small step away from the sound on her first collection, “Roam.” That featured the songs “Roam,” “Champagne Supernova” and “Treat You.” They’re certainly slower songs than her latest work. The vocals are pretty much the same across both EPs, but the music has become faster and more electronic.

Theia’s “Not Your Princess” is a feminist electro-pop album that pumps you up, but it’s not all that different than songs that are already being played on the radio.

Standout tracks: “Not Your Princess” & “Candy.”

Erica Burkholder |

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