Khalid Free Spirit

Khalid Free Spirit
6
Has Khalid Robinson already peaked? The now-21-year-old Khalid was knighted the voice of his generation, and 2016 single "Location" and album American Teen successfully proved it — timely, accessible and sharp themes of young love and ambition hit all the right notes during these obtuse times.
 
So it's a tad dismaying that Khalid has already become the poster child of the streaming music era — already achieving an inoffensive level of ubiquity despite the strong vocals, hooks and production. As a songwriter and melody-maker, Khalid is presently on point: these 17 tracks carry that same echoey, soulful, pop-tinged trill destined for packaging in soundtracks and themed playlists. Case in point: Free Spirit leans into John Mayer, Father John Misty and Disclosure collaborations.
 
All of this would be easy to mock if it wasn't so darn catchy and resonant — title track "Free Spirit" settles into a pleasant '80s pop feel, "Better" is a chill head-nodder, "Paradise" has a smooth swagger and "Heaven" offers a layered look at contemplation. Free Spirit is Khalid's coming-of-age story: it's well-constructed, but already feels too predictable at this point. (Sony)