February 4, 2016 Rachel Platten – Wildfire (Album Review)
A student of music since the age of five, American singer-songwriter Rachel Platten had a passion for creating. Picking up a guitar in high school, she further explored music, and while in college, she had a life-changing experience of singing backing up in a friend’s band in Trinidad at the International Soca Monarch finals in 2002. Reportedly realizing that she wanted to pursue music professionally, Platten released her debut album in 2003, entitled Trust in Me. Then, in 2011, she released her second album, entitled Be Here, and, that same year, attained success with”1,000 Ships,” which peaked at number 24 on the US Billboard Adult Top 40 chart. From that point, Platten kept striving for more and was rewarded when she signed with Columbia Records in 2015. Releasing a four track EP for the single “Fight Song” in May of last year, Platten spent time touring with Christina Perri and Colbie Caillat on the Girls Night Out, to much success. Continuously creating a buzz, the major attention has built up as Platten released her third overall studio album and major label debut on January 1, 2016, Wildfire. Debuting at #5 on the US Billboard 200, Wildfire sold 45,000 equivalent album units (29,000 from pure album sales) in the first week alone, an impressive feat for the modern era of music.
Twelve tracks in total, Wildfire starts out with the single “Stand by You,” which begins with the chorus being softly played in the background before the soft vocals of Platten give the audience an easy-listening start. The song then picks up the pace and breaks through with a chorus that will get the listener’s head nodding along. Following next is “Hey Hey Hallelujah,” keeping the good vibes coming from the record. With a slight touch of Jazz, this song entices the listener on the dance floor, or at least gets them clapping along. A little slower and less upbeat, “Speechless” brings on heavy emotions. Soft and heartwarming, this track touches on the topic of being in love, feeling the butterflies in one’s stomach, and being unable to put it into words.
Faster and more intense, “Beating Me Up” brings Wildfire back up to speed. Lyrically about fighting with someone precious, it is a compelling track musically and lyrically. Empowering, next is the hit single “Fight Song,” which dusts the listeners off from the argument in the prior track and helps them to get back up on their feet. A very positive track, it tells the listener to take a stand in their beliefs and shout them out loud. Continuing with another love song, “Better Place” explains how life changes when being in love. Instrumentally, it creates a vibe of sunshine and butterflies fluttering around, a purely tranquil feeling. Then there is the fast, energized “Lone Ranger,” an accelerated rhythm and a catchy chorus. It is a track that will easily get stuck in everybody’s heads from the first listen. With a thriving pace, “You Don’t Know My Heart” will once again get listeners moving along. This is an ability Platten projects throughout the album, one moment tugging at her listener’s heart, the next making them want to enjoy life and dance. Furthermore, keeping spirits high, “Angels in Chelsea” features words about people in the street that influence their surroundings in a positive way.
As Wildfire approaches its closing, “Astronauts” is a joyful song with bright melodies and beautiful lyrics that will bring a smile to anyone’s face. Afterwards is “Congratulations” with a strong rhythm and a slightly sarcastic tone about some being broken and feeling down because of somebody else. Then, lastly, “Superman” brings back the positivity, touching on the feelings of taking away pain, being there for loved ones, and simply being somebody’s superhero by being there for that very person.
Wildfire is a tremendous step for Platten. Each song includes catchy melodies, a rich sound, and strong composition. Lasting for just under forty one minutes, it includes a balance of songs that will meet a variety of listeners’ tastes. Easy-going and filled with emotions as well as amazing lyrics, Wildfire can be played everywhere and at all times. CrypticRock gives this album 4 out of 5 stars.