When you look at the album’s name and then the cover, you already know the predominant theme governing the songs – confrontation. If you look at the album cover closely, you’ll see Luke Hemmings looking at a blurry version of himself. Symbolically, it suggests that Luke is finally facing parts of himself that he had earlier hidden.
‘When Facing The Things We Turn Away From,’ is an album that exceeded all expectations I had set for it. I was excited to hear what Luke Hemmings’ could bring to the front as a solo artist, and I have to say, I am surprised.
The album is set in such a manner that it feels like a musical telling of a story with emphasis on the ups and downs of life. As soon as you plug in your headphones, you’re in for a journey, beginning from the ‘Starting Line’ (literally).
The opening song of the album, ‘Starting Line’ sets the tone of guided meditation. Anxiety seems to be one of the themes the song plays on. ‘I wake up in the morning with the years ticking by,’ is the part from where the song picks up the tempo which lies parallel to the idea of racing thoughts. In a way, the song reminded me of an anxiety episode, which starts with slow-paced thoughts on how a little love would be good, but then it turns into a loud, fast-paced rush of thoughts accompanied by panic. I think that’s what ‘Starting Line’ tries to represent, showing that we aren’t alone with that feeling.
‘Saigon,’ is the second song of the album which also stands to be the one from which the album derived its name. As soon as this song started, I got the same feeling I felt when listening to ‘Canyon Moon’ by Harry Styles. This song will fit perfectly into a Lo-Fi playlist. If we talk about the lyrics, the song is based on confrontation. In a way, it romanticizes confrontation. If I had to describe the feeling the song invoked in me, it would be the same sentiment I feel when on a long drive with the windows pulled down, the air blowing through my hair and the music so loud it drowns away the thoughts.
The song ‘Baby Blue’ is a rollercoaster in itself. The vast dualities the song presents, make you wonder how difficult life must have been for young singers like Luke to leave behind their youth and take on the path of professionalism. ‘Take off my suit and wander in/ For a moment/ Or hide for a lifetime,’ are strong lines that encompass what the song is trying to convey. The bridge covers the repetition of the line ‘I wanna stay here forever,’ which brings forth the emotion that life seems to be moving too fast and sometimes it’s hard to catch up with it.
Right after ‘Saigon’, my second favorite song from the album is the seventh track – ‘Mum’. Uncannily, Luke sounded a lot like Harry Styles at the beginning of the song. The track talks about one’s situation when dealing with a mental illness. ‘Mum, I’m sorry, I’m still falling,’ is the lyric that shows how mental illness steals away time you have with your family and how detached the victim of the same grows to be. Luke reveals through the song how much he misses his mother and ‘sees her in everything’ (brb I’m crying).
A journey in itself, ‘Slip Away’ is a song that explores the feeling of losing a person’s love. The song begins by describing how it feels to fall in love and swiftly moves on to showcasing how it feels when you make mistakes grave enough to lose the other person’s love. Throughout the song, you’ll find traces of lines that show how Luke expected the end to come – ‘Like I knew you would;’ ‘Like you knew I would.’ It could be Luke telling us about his fears coming true.
The album till track eleven is a constant high and low, but when we reach ‘Comedown,’ we realize that it’s the end. The song in itself sounds like a goodbye and maybe that’s what acceptance sounds like – acceptance being the very theme of the song. There is confidence in Luke’s voice in this song, along with a certain placidity. The certainty of being able to face it all, the good and the bad, reaches the listeners.
When the song ended, I had the same feeling you have after watching a good movie or reading a good book. The lingering feeling of having listened to something that comes to a full circle.
Overall, it would be safe to say that Luke Hemmings outdid himself with ‘When Facing The Things We Turn Away From.’ From the lyrics of the songs to the harmony each song presented, everything fit in place. I would definitely recommend listening to this album for it is an experience in itself.
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