"This is our year," Khalid emphatically states on the title track of his much-anticipated debut. He just might be on to something: Khalid is a fresh face to the R&B game, and recent singles like "Location" and "Shot Down" carry a sound that belie his young years and announce a triumphant new voice that reps all the "Young Dumb & Broke" high school kids, as he puts it on the track of the same name.
Hailing from the 915 — otherwise known as the city of El Paso, Texas — the 18-year-old integrates a Southern sensibility into his take on R&B and pop. At 15 tracks, American Teen doesn't feel overstuffed. The acoustic bop of "Saved" is indicative of his musical approach: straightforward lyrics, silky vocals and an earnest take on the genre.
"Coaster" hits on the ups-and-down of young love: "Moving on seems hard to do / When the one that you love moves faster than you." The aforementioned "Shot Down" has a soulful, gospel feel as it speaks on the feelings a lover evokes, while "8Teen" is a pop anthem for late adolescence, when hoping your mom's car doesn't reek of weed after you've used it is just one of life's worries.
American Teen generally plays things straight up, not too concerned about chasing bleeding edge sounds but resting nicely in the pocket between conventional R&B and a future-pop-minded audience. "Living a good life full of good vibes," as he sings on the title track, Khalid is on to something on his debut album, a solid intro to a talented teen. (Sony)