All songs on the album were written by WILLOW, with co-writing and production from her longtime collaborator Tyler Cole. To celebrate the album’s release, the artist scheduled an Instagram and Messenger live performance.
Combining elements from a number of genres, along with a good helping of pop punk, lately I feel EVERYTHING feels like the perfect showcase of the singer’s evolution. It’s also the type of boundary-smashing milestone needed in 2021.
“I feel like in some cases genre can be helpful because it is historical, and the only reason why we’re seeing so much genre-mixing today is because it’s 2021 and so much has evolved,” WILLOW says. “I feel like it’s really case by case, but overall, I’m all for getting rid of the categories and just doing whatever you feel. But sometimes when I’m conceptualizing things, I do need to know each different kind of genre that I’m going to be nodding to—like laying out a road map that’s specifically for me.”
The star-studded record opens with “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l” (feat. Travis Barker), which WILLOW dropped as a single in April. She also released an official music video for the track, which already amassed over 5 million views on YouTube.
Listeners are greeted with the refreshingly fun “F**K You” next, which features 36 seconds of the singer sharing her feelings with drums as the only instrumentation. Like the bass-led “don’t SAVE ME” a little later on the album, “F**K You” showcases WILLOW’s ability to make a kick-ass alternative track using any instrument as the lead. The rest of the album follows a similarly unpredictable format, with each song forging its own path while remaining equally imaginative as the last.
Numbers such as “Come Home” (feat. Ayla Tesler-Mabe) and “4ever” feature reverberated vocals, granting the album a degree of shoegaze influence. To make it meaningful for herself, the singer said she had to incorporate a variety of alternative influences.
“To make it authentic to me, I had to put a little bit of those alt-rock vibes in there, too,” WILLOW says. “I had to put a little bit of those shoegaze vibes in there, those Mazzy Star vibes.”
Barker is the most featured artist on the record. A genre-defying icon in his own right, it is only fitting that WILLOW incorporated the blink-182 drummer into so much of the album. But Barker isn’t the only iconic talent featured on the album. Along with the harmonic vocals of indie virtuoso Cherry Glazerr on “¡BREAKOUT!” and the insightful delivery of hip-hop star Tierra Whack on “XTRA,” the artist also featured vocals from pop-punk legend Avril Lavigne on “G R O W.”
WILLOW enthusiastically described the process of working with Lavigne to AltPress.
“She’s just amazing,” the artist told AltPress. “She knows this genre like the back of her hand. It was just effortless watching her come up with her verse. Just the tone of her voice and how she knows exactly the right tone that’s going to work with the song. When I heard her verse, I was like, ‘Oh no, should I even get on this?’ Because I’m not going to sound nearly as hardcore or amazing as she sounds. But then I was like, ‘You know what? Don’t go back into that mindset. Be confident, hold your head up high and sing this damn song with this amazing woman.’ I’m so excited for it.”
WILLOW’s new album marks her fifth full-length studio release, yet the artist still says she faces racist and sexist gatekeeping. On writing the album and destroying boundaries, the artist says her mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, who faced similar limitations while touring with her nü-metal band Wicked Wisdom, helped inspire her.
“I remember going to some of my peers when I was in school and expressing to them that I wanted to perm my hair and do the classic emo swoop to the side and them just looking at me going, ‘I don’t think that that’s going to be a good look for you,’” WILLOW recalls. “I remember feeling exactly like, ‘Wow, I just want to be a cute emo girl and just live my life.’ There’s a barrier there, every single time.
“And that’s one of the reasons why I loved watching my mom on Ozzfest and touring metal,” the artist continues.” A lot of people didn’t want her to be doing that. A lot of people felt offended and angry that a Black famous woman was there in their community, doing something that they didn’t want her to be doing. She got so many death threats; people were throwing shit at her onstage, just being really, really racist and nasty and sexist. And me seeing that happen and seeing how gracefully she dealt with it, I was like, ‘Damn, if this is what I’m going to have to go up against out there, I’m going to have to do some mental and emotional training.’ And she helps me do that.
“Obviously, pop punk and heavy metal are two extremely different genres, but I think Black people in the rock world in general are still pretty rare,” WILLOW adds. “There’s just a tension there and a resistance that I really wanted to push back against. And on top of the fact that I wanted to push back against that, I just love rock, and I always have for my whole life. Those are two really big reasons why I decided to make this project.”
Through sheer originality in addition to taking a stand against labels and expectations, lately I feel EVERYTHING feels like a unique direction for the artist and music in general. Find the tracklist for lately I feel EVERYTHING below.
What do you think of WILLOW’s new record, lately I feel EVERYTHING? Give the album a listen and let us know in the comments below!
lately I feel EVERYTHING tracklisting:
1. “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l” (feat. Travis Barker)
2. “FUCK You”
3. “Gaslight” (feat. Travis Barker)
4. “don’t SAVE ME”
7. “Come Home” (feat. Ayla Tesler-Mabe)
9. “XTRA” (feat. Tierra Whack)
10. “G R O W” (feat. Avril Lavigne and Travis Barker)
11. “¡BREAKOUT!” (feat. Cherry Glazerr)