By Rhiannon Levengood
Sabrina Carpenter continues her musical evolution with the debut of her third, full length record Singular Act I. This album features 8 brand new songs that refine Carpenter’s ever-changing sound. Through Act I, she takes you on a journey to Paris and Le Louvre, proclaims her desire for intense love and affection, and shows off her confidence with two show-stopping numbers. Sabrina takes risks she’s never taken before, tells about parts of her life she’s never explicitly told before, and ultimately breaks out of her Disney Channel shell. Singular Act I as a whole is a coming-of-age album and should be treated just like a precious diamond.
Act I opens with the very first single off this record, “Almost Love.” This anthem introduces an edgier side of Sabrina’s craft. While her sound is still relatively pop, there’s a taste of R&B shining through in this song, and in the rest of the album. “Almost Love” tells a story of restlessness and excitement, and perfectly sets the vibe for the rest of Act I. There are elements of desire and uncertainty strewn across the lyrics as Carpenter decides once and for all she’s done waiting around for love to slowly blossom. Falling in love makes her nervous and antsy, the exact same way she feels before hitting the stage to start a show, but that sort of exhilaration is what she craves most in a relationship.
However, sometimes Sabrina isn’t always aware of the love she already has. “Paris” describes her inability to see the love that is waiting for her at home in Los Angeles. When trying to find love in the romantic city of Paris, France, she realizes her mistake and through the native language, she professes her love for this boy back in SoCal:
“Je ne voulais pas trouver l’amour (I did not want to find love)
Mais Paris a quelque chose (But Paris has something)
Qui donne envie d’aimer, d’aimer passionément (That makes you want to love, to love passionately)
Mon coeur est à toi pour toujours (My heart is yours forever)
You will always have my heart”
“Hold Tight” is Carpenter’s first song to feature the vocals of another artist, and flawlessly showcases the maturity of both herself and her music. She pleads for an intimate love that’s a little more private, a little more stay-at-home, and subtly expresses her sensuality. UHMEER’s appearance takes “Hold Tight” to another level and could successfully bring it to mainstream radio. Instrumentally, this track bounces back and forth between having a rhythmic, slow grind, to having a quicker, staccato beat. In fact, Carpenter’s friend Joey King perfectly described the feel of this song.
Sabrina breaks away from the sappy romance stories to bring us a love ballad for herself. “Sue Me” is an empowering song about moving on from a previous relationship without losing sight of oneself. It teaches self-love in the sassiest way possible, and makes for a great jam to sing to in the car. The track is heavy with synthesized production and has common themes with Demi Lovato’s own vengeful song “Sorry Not Sorry,” but still stands alone as Sabrina’s unique, contemporary R&B sound.
Singular Act I slows down and mellows out with “prfct,” another song revealing Carpenter’s need to feel something more than just love. She wants lust and heartbreak, anger and pain. She doesn’t want a perfect relationship; she wants a prfctly imperfect one that sits on the edge of being scandalous and distressful. The most compelling part of this track is Carpenter’s use of vocal layering, which gives the song a fractured vibe. There are pieces of lyrics echoing around the chorus and bridge, like fragments of thoughts trying to fit into a cohesive sentence. The production of the song presents itself as imperfect and scattered, like the kind of love and intimacy that Sabrina yearns for.
The third single release from Singular is “Bad Time,” another saucy and savage song where Sabrina seeks her revenge on a boy who constantly rejected her in the past. She promises that if he ever contacts her again, she’ll be using his favorite line “it’s a bad time for a good time” against him. The song itself is poppy and fun to sing along to, bringing the album back up to a dancy tempo before jumping into “Mona Lisa.”
Much like the actual painting, Sabrina has her eyes set on someone who isn’t making the first move. She’s waiting patiently for him to introduce himself, tell her she’s beautiful, give her attention, and then take her home, but she senses some hesitation from him. Again, this song exhibits very rhythmic, staccato-like vocals that give it the R&B feel. “Mona Lisa” contrasts with “Paris” by flipping the plot and putting the ball in the other person’s court. The songs have common themes and even take place in the same city, but Sabrina plays opposite roles in each song. “Mona Lisa” could almost be a prequel to “Paris” because at first she’s trying to find love in Paris, and then she realizes she has love in Los Angeles.
And finally, Act I comes to an extravagant and dramatic close with “Diamonds Are Forever.” With this track, Sabrina Carpenter confidently declares that she doesn’t just give away her love. She compares herself and her love to a diamond, meaning that she’s precious and timeless, and no amount of money could buy her time and affection. The vibe of this song is similar to Rihanna because of how huge the vocals are. The sound is big, well-rounded, and a perfect finale piece to Singular Act I.
Lucky for us, Singular Act II will be released in early 2019, so this little intermission won’t be too long for the Carpenters.
Catch Sabrina as a part of iHeartRadio’s annual Jingle Ball tour for the holidays. For a full list of tour dates, please visit www.sabrinacarpenter.com.