Grace Proves She’s An Artist To Watch On Debut ‘FMA’
For Aussie pop singer/songwriter Grace Sewell (simply as Grace), music runs in the family. Grace’s older brother is pop singer Conrad Sewell, who is also establishing his musical career stateside. Focusing on Grace, she’s an incredibly expressive, soulful singer. At 19, she is full of potential, which she showcases marvelously on debut FMA.
The first half of FMA is its best – exceptional through and through. “Church on Sunday” elevates the spirit with its gospel-infused, throwback production. Grace confesses her sin – a cold heart. Unable to love the cute boys she sees, she’s “gotta go to church on Sunday.”
“Hell of a Girl” keeps the momentum and soulfulness afloat. No longer the culprit as she was on “Church on Sunday,” Grace turns the blame on the boy. “Bet you feel so stupid that you played with my heart,” she sings on the chorus. “Karma, karma, karma, she’s a hell of a girl.”
On “Hope You Understand,” both funk and feistiness are amplified. Grace rivals Christina Aguilera here, in regards to her grittiness and the oomph she brings. Like the two songs that precede, “Hope You Understand” benefits from an infectious chorus. Three tracks in, FMA is “on fire.”
“Crazy Over Here” (featuring Parker) is quirky, yet interesting. The animated groove propels Grace, whose vocals are drenched in swagger. “Crazy Over Here” suits Grace because of its youthful vibe. “Babe, you need to tame before it’s a little too late” exemplifies the open, carefree sentiment.
“You Don’t Own Me” is the crème de la crème – the record propelling Grace to this status. Grace is joined by the ever-confident G-Eazy, who further boosts this standout. Even with Gerald’s awesome collaboration, Grace definitely doesn’t play “second fiddle,” owning the song’s M.O. of highlighting the independent woman.
After five home runs, FMA loses a bit of its edge but remains sound. “How to Love Me” is lovely, slackening the pace. Stripping the production work allows for Grace’s powerful pipes to shine. “Coffee” picks up the pace a smidgen without going ‘full throttle.’ Like Miguel’s 2015 single of the same title, “Coffee” is referring to Folgers, Maxwell House, or Starbucks. “Coffee” is tasteful nonetheless, never crossing the line of suggestiveness.
“From You” is smooth and lush and lush to the nth degree. Even so, the song itself isn’t nearly as smooth sailing: “And you promise me you would change, well never do / but I stay with you, I stay with you.” “Feel Your Love” is a cut above, thanks to the brilliant coexistence of retro and contemporary cues. “Feel” has more of a feisty, youthful vibe, exemplified during the profane, “I guess we were drinking for the hell of it / and yelling shit.”
Follow up “New Orleans” is enigmatic and hypnotic – clearly a contrast to the rest of FMA. Alluring, it’s also a bit sleepy at the same time. “Boys Boys Boys” reignites the energy, even if she’s been singing about the opposite sex the entirety of the album. While it’s fun, perhaps contemporizing the record more would’ve heightened the appeal. Three more songs grace FMA: “Say,” “Boyfriend Jeans (Remix),” and “Song Cries and Amens.” “Boyfriend Jeans” originally appeared on Grace’s EP, but reappears as the penultimate song in remixed form.
All in all, Grace shows tremendous potential on her full-length debut. It’s imperfect, but the good moments easily outweigh the flawed moments. The opening quintet represents FMA’s best bets.
Gems: “Church on Sunday,” “Hell of A Girl,” “Hope You Understand,” “Crazy Over Here,” “You Don’t Own Me” ft. G-Eazy & “Feel Your Love”