Shortly before he was slated to debut his first solo album, One Direction star Liam Payne announced in a tweet that fans might have to wait just a little longer as the songs currently on his album “felt from another age.”
He said that in the past few months, he has gone through major changes in his life, and it’s safe to say that becoming a father and his break-up from girlfriend of over two years, Cheryl Cole are definitely some of them.
But instead of leaving his fans hanging, Liam rewarded their patience by announcing a four-track EP called First Time, which finally released on Friday, August 24. With First Time, Liam pleasantly surprises us with a mature and diverse range of sounds. With honest, well-written lyrics and hopping through multiple genres, Liam Payne has come a long way since his debut with ‘Strip That Down’. This mini album also gives us an insight into his personal life, mainly his relationships – as if each song is a piece of him. He has mentioned to his fans that this EP is his most personal work so far.
The title track, ‘First Time’ features rapper French Montana and is laden with a smooth Latin-pop vibe, while he takes a completely different direction with the soulful ballad, ‘Depend On It’. ‘Home With You’ is a delightful and lively burst of R&B while ‘Slow’ is a carefree electro-pop hit. Here is a track by track analysis of the EP that is arguably his best work till date:
First Time (feat. French Montana)
‘First Time’, which is also the lead single off the EP, is a groovy, Latin-infused anthem featuring rapper French Montana. This single bears a lot of similarities to its predecessor, Familiar, on which Liam collaborated with Columbian singer J Balvin. But at the same time, it manages to stand out on its own. ‘First Time’ seems to be about being so enamoured by a woman that you can’t stop thinking about the first time you saw her. French Montana also makes his presence felt with his verse singing ‘that be silly if the ring round your finger is half a milli’.
All in all, this song makes for a great lead single and is a perfect club anthem for when you want to get your groove on.
Home With You
Personally, this is my favourite song on the EP. It is also the most underrated song out of the four. A smooth R&B number, this lively song is perfect for a party. As soon as the song begins, your feet involuntarily start tapping to the beat and an immediate smile creeps onto your face. Liam dishes out his famous high notes and falsettos for this song, and they compliment this preppy number beautifully. With lyrics like ‘too many cooks in the kitchen, too many fools here listening’, this song seems to be about wanting some alone time with your loved one. Talking about the song at Ash London Live, Liam said, “It’s basically the idea of when you go home with a person and your experience with them is something like never before. That little moment of bliss.”
‘Home With You’ is a beautiful burst of energy. It is like discovering that the song you had been skipping on shuffle is actually a smash hit. Just close your eyes and take the harmonies in, you’ll feel completely at peace.
Depend On It
With ‘Depend On It’, Liam finally gives fans what they have been asking for ever since he went solo: a ballad. And boy, does he deliver. Packed with falsettos and high notes, this piano ballad sets itself apart from all the songs on the EP. He gets brutally honest with this track, with his songwriting skills on full display with lyrics like “There’s still a thread left, if I could just hold on, onto unraveling hope, give it one last go.” What really sets this song apart is that it relies solely on Liam’s powerful vocals. The only music in the song is a piano playing softly in the background. This is a representation of Liam’s vast talent and serves as a massive ‘f**k you’ to anyone who has ever doubted his skills since his One Direction days.
This Nick Jonas-esque, John Mayer-inspired song is the perfect recipe for a tearjerker. It leaves your heart aching, and for anyone who has gone through heartbreak, this song would probably hit very close to home.
‘Slow’ is the last song in the four-track EP and honestly, there couldn’t have been a better way to bring this mini-album to an end. Liam comes full circle with this upbeat electro-pop anthem. A groovy tune with heavy synths, this song ends the show with a bang. It addresses the end of a relationship with lyrics like “Know that we’re broken, know that this was over months ago.” He asks to be let down slowly and gently, knowing full well that the relationship was doomed for a very long time. Despite being a song about heartbreak, it does a good job of staying upbeat.
Liam has revealed that Slow is his favourite song because he feels like “its the closest thing to a One Direction-y, boyband-y chorus” and it really shows his 1D roots in the song.
Overall, this EP has something for everyone, pulling from various different music genres.
Liam has managed to stay very honest with his music, giving us an insight to his love life through his own eyes. He also goes genre-hopping in this EP, something that not many artists can pull off. There are only four songs in this album, but each song is extremely different from one another.
It is not an easy feat touching multiple genres, but Liam manages to do just that whilst still holding on tight to his distinct R&B-pop sound. He manages to get each genre to fit his vision, rather than going the other way round, and that makes this EP stand out amongst his other music. He also sounds more mature and wiser, probably because of the new experiences and changes he went through during the creation of these songs.
I’m going to be very honest, I was a little skeptical about Liam when he first released ‘Strip That Down’. I have always known he was talented, just like the rest of One Direction, but that song kind of put me off. But with this EP, he managed to surprise many, including myself. And I am very excited to see what he brings to the table when he releases his much awaited debut album.
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