Keep Your Sanity

With The Weeknd’s new album: Dawn FM

Album cover for Dawn FM. The Toronto born singer, The Weeknd, has taken some maturity on his new album. Genius

Not long ago, we were still thinking about After Hours, which was released at the beginning of this enduring sanitary crisis. That sophisticated project from Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, emotionally saved us from what was just the beginning of this nightmare; lockdowns after lockdowns, and never-ending waves that keeps throwing us off guard.

The Weeknd didn’t wait too long to set the tone to this new year. 2022 has lots to look forward to, it is our year, the beginning of a new world, hopefully one where there are tangible improvements in human rights globally.

Abel’s new album- that has some similarities with some aspects of the Jackson Thriller era- was released on January 7. I waited awhile before writing this piece, but I wanted to make sure I captured the statement he wanted to convey without rushing.

Landing its way easily on the charts, the record sends a clear message to all of the artists who can’t seem to find their voice: remain true to yourself and make music that says something. Most importantly, the music albums should be created as if you are creating a story.

All critics are unanimous: the project has something for everyone. Even if you aren’t the biggest R&B or pop fan, you will love this project. Regardless of that, personally, I’m not thrilled with the last songs, with the exception of Less Than Zero. They seem to fall short compared to the first few tracks. Here We Go…Again would’ve been ideal to end the album.

After a project like Kiss Land, we shouldn’t be surprised by the turn that the album takes. We definitely recognize the strange and unique Abel we have gotten to love in the past.

The beats in How Do I Make You Love Me? as well as in Sacrifice are terrific. It makes you want to dance the night away. Get lost in the sounds at the start of Dawn FM, as if you are on your own journey to healing and soul searching. It was obvious from the first listen that Sacrifice would become a hit on all radio stations, and it did just that.

The videoclip for the song Sacrifice. YouTube

One of the things I enjoy the most about The Weeknd is that you can feel how much he lays his heart on the line when he writes his music. He becomes vulnerable and opens up like he rarely does during his interviews. On top of that, he has a unique signature voice that is recognizable right away.

Talking about vulnerability, you need to listen to the small interlude, A Tale From Quincy. Abel lets the famous music producer Quincy Jones talk about his upbringing and the mental problems his mom had back when he was a kid. Growing up without a mother from a young age, Quincy Jones says that it had an effect on his relationships throughout his life. “Whenever I got too close to a woman I would cut her off, part of that was vindictive and partially based on fear, but it was also totally subconscious.”

With The Weeknd, you can in some way sense the pain- as well as the joy- he goes through. You can unreservedly feel his distress and painful thoughts on the track Gasoline. The rhythm on there is upbeat, but the lyrics are dark; admitting that he is in a way a nihilist. While dissecting the lyrics, you might find an allusion to atheism, and the idea of giving up on social and moral principles along the way. It might be a presumption he came up with the pandemic, or just The Weeknd being the elusive artist he is.

On other songs we feel him portraying life in a better light.

You can see that the roller coaster the Toronto artist has been going through most of his life has shaped who he is. All the setbacks made him stronger and more respectful in a world that has become ignorant to individuality and differences. His uniqueness makes him shine. I don’t think his goal is to become successful. He has a vision of a utopian world, vision he wants to share with everyone. The people can identify with him, and all of his unconventional thoughts.

Music fans appreciate Abel, thanks to the number of songs he produces. He comes out with a new album almost every two years. If he keeps going at that rate, we can expect lots more music on the horizon. Some artists always take more time to release albums; we won’t need to worry about that with The Weeknd. He reassembles some singers like Prince in that matter. Prior to his passing, the Purple Rain singer was also known for releasing a ton of material, often concept albums.

Dawn FM is Abel’s 8th album, if we take into account the compilation album Trilogy, released in 2012. Proof that he is part of the big names in music, he performed alone at the Super Bowl LV Halftime Show. Too bad that it happened when we were dealing with a planetary crisis and that the crowds were limited. Nevertheless, he nailed it. That evening, every Canadian was unquestionably proud of their own. Canada was on the map, as it has been the case in the last few years with big names in the music industry being from here.

So, as we are all facing our own mental challenges due to the pandemic, we must regroup ourselves and show gratitude and appreciation for science and what we are able to do because of vaccines. We need to be thankful for being alive, not everyone has this chance. One way to keep your sanity is by staying in touch with the ones you love and listen to good music that will never leave this earth.

Thanks, Abel, for being a part of this ride.

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Olivier Pilon

Graduated with a masters degree in politics from the University of Quebec in Montreal. Human rights, LGBT issues, sports and music. Twitter: @OlivierPilon