When rap extraordinaire Eminem supports the creation of your second studio album as an executive producer, you know you have a successful effort on your hands. Originally intended for a 2011 release under a different name, singer-songwriter Skylar Grey’s Don’t Look Down finally hit shelves after a number of setbacks, a few preceding singles and a decent amount of positive buzz. Featuring a diverse track list including tracks such as “C’Mon Let Me Ride” and “Final Warning”, Grey puts her intricate songwriting and impressive vocal skills to the test on her official twelve-track effort while collaborating with artists including Big Sean and Travis Barker.
Featuring Travis Barker and Big Sean with an impressive rap verse, the debut album from Skylar Grey kicks off with “Back From the Dead”, where the artist contemplates the return of a former lover. As the title eludes, the opening track carries a horror-inspired theme with background production that creates a dark, somber mood. The artist mourns the loss, but thankfully moves on.
Released as the album’s official second single, it was “Final Warning” that boosted anticipation for the effort. Grey’s vocals are something different when compared to the similar talents in the Top 40 pop industry and linger long after the haunting track is over. “Good afternoon dear, how does the rope feel around your neck?”, she sings on the track of deceit and foul play.
Grey admits the world is a messed up place to live in on “Religion”, so stick with her if you need something to believe in. With a positive, inspirational message, the artist’s vocals soar beautifully on the feel-good anthem. The smart balance of profanity and innocence is what allows the song to stand out from other similar releases and become a bright moment. It should have been a single instead of “C’Mon Let Me Ride” featuring mentor Eminem. While the track is a fun, carefree, sexual experiment for Grey as she certainly steps out of her comfort zone, it was not the best single choice. However, points must be given for the catchy Queen sample, Eminem’s verse and the amusing tongue-in-cheek lyrics.
Grey advices her listeners to keep their cool and to always look on the bright side on the optimistic, uptempo “Sunshine”. “Look at the sky, there’s no need to cry, ain’t got money but we got sunshine,” she sings about keeping your head up. The message of perseverance and strength would have been enough for me, but the smooth production and confident vocals take it to another level.
The artist gets honest and explicit about her ex on “Pulse”, where Grey sings about not loving the former lover enough to even care that he is now gone. Skylar keeps her cool when describing the new girlfriend, her vocals show strength and incredible attitude, while the beats remain interesting and make the track flow as effortlessly as possible. Revenge never tasted so good.
With a title like “Shit, Man!”, a vulgar, male-bashing experience was to be expected, but somehow the artist turns it into another slow, story-like retelling of the past featuring a rap verse from up and coming talent Angel Haze. Grey talks about all the obstacles a couple will face in the relationship, but also the desire to try and overcome those problems. However, on “Clear Blue Sky”, Grey is all about moving forward in life, whether it is from a troubled relationship or suffocating environment. The artist has always shown a tough, independent exterior and that is clearly depicted in the song. After shedding all the darkness in her way, it seems she can finally experience a summer without the thunder. Another success for the album.
Hopefully everyone downloaded “Tower (Don’t Look Down)” when it was available as iTunes’ Free Single of the Week. “You’re high up on a tower, now don’t look down, I will be safe right here on the ground,” Grey sings on the track which shows her looking back on a past relationship she is now completely ready to let go of. Strong vocals, lyrics with sentiment and great production produced a hit.
The album closes with “White Suburban”, the current fourth single. With its piano-driven production, Grey reminisces on the times with a former flame and how she was always treated second rate. For the final track, the artist completely opens up about her “first”, her vocals come off as vulnerable as ever, and the lyrics paint a clear, somber picture for the listener.
Don’t Look Down was an album some time in the making, experienced unfortunate setbacks and underperforming singles, but the finished product was well worth the wait. Throughout the effort’s twelve tracks, Skylar Grey maintains great vocal composure as she glides through personal lyrics and stories more than likely from her own past. All the songs are not sure fire hits, the album does lose some of its steam along the journey, but even when she steps out of her comfort zone to have some fun, the overall experience is a strong one that Miss Grey should proudly stamp as her own.