Angie Haze – Time Thief

 Angie Haze – Time Thief

Angie Haze – Time Thief – Album Review

Y’all know I’m paying attention to just about everything when I start to listen to something new.  The first thing I noticed when I started checking out Angie Haze’s new album Time Thief, is that according to the date stamped to it online, it actually came out about a year ago…and yet, from the link I’ve been listening to it from, it’s still technically ‘private.’  So I think to myself, that’s strange…you wouldn’t expect to see that on an album that’s been out as long as this has been…maybe I’ve got myself an old link here.  Nope!  As it turns out, Time Thief is only available to the people that are attending her shows.  Unique!  That instantly stood out to me and got the wheels turning in my brain, which so many of her songs would go on to do as well.  I certainly dig the idea in comparison to just being another record amongst millions on Spotify, but to be real with ya, I’m not at all sure I agree with this as a strategy.  I’d have to say it would likely end up excluding most people from listening to Angie’s music even though that’s not the intentions behind her reasoning.  She’s doing her level best to encourage people to get off their ass and get out there to a show…which I can certainly appreciate, and I definitely will!  So when’s the next time you’re touring to Canada Angie?  Or Switzerland?  Or Africa?  Etc. etc. etc.  – I can only hope you get the point.  It seems like it’s a great idea, and in many ways I admire the ambition & intention that drives such an approach…but it’s one that can really only work on a fairly local level.   Considering that she’s got songs that deal with real issues that extend far beyond her own backyard…I dunno…call me the crazy one if you like, but I suppose I genuinely believe that everyone should hear Angie’s tunes.  Art like she creates is what truly educates the masses, and in that respect, we’ve got no more time to waste.

Anyhow.  “Swim” is a strong start to this record, and a song that’s as socially aware as it is entertaining.  From the push/pull energy it presents through the clever use of space & pace, each line Angie sings has the true opportunity to make an impact on ya, and to be genuinely heard.  She ain’t fuckin’ around here on this song, or indeed anywhere on this record overall y’all – she’s making observant points about how close we are to the end at the beginning of this album, much in that same way that Maynard observed things on “Aenima” back in the day, threatening us with a very real “Swim” of his own in predicting the impending possibilities of an Arizona Bay.  You’ll notice great definition in the whole sound she’s rockin’ with…you’ll notice the band playing perfectly as one entity on the same page with their shared vision…and you’ll probably notice a whole bunch of different ideas added into the background along the way as well.  From seagulls to droplets dropping & fingers snappin’…”Swim” swirls with different aspects of creativity, and creates a seriously compelling listen that’s guaranteed to get you contemplatin’ all kinds of stuff you should probably already be thinking about.  Angie’s raging on behalf of mother nature, its many animals at the mercy of our stupidity, and pretty much all of us as well when it comes right down to it.  I don’t know that we’ve got much time left to change what she’s singing about if we have any left at all, but if this planet is doomed & going down, then at least we’ve got a good soundtrack to it.

I think there’s an argument to be made that “Swim” would potentially be the kind of song we’d notice for the uniqueness of its design, and that the second track “Run” would be much more akin to the kind of single we’ve typically heard, but still can’t get enough of.  Angie’s freakin’ extraordinary in the way that she sings this ballad…as heartbreaking as much of this song is, she’s really found an impressive approach to make it equally beautiful too.  She’s got a tremendous amount of uniqueness working in her favor, and seems to be able to effortlessly drift between the realms of the artistic, ambitious, and accessible without blinking an eye.  She’s clearly an innovator, and while there’s a lot about this ballad that would remind you of tunes you’ve heard throughout music’s history, there’s no doubt whatsoever about how much she’s nailed this moment better than the rest.  You feel “Run” right in the pit of your stomach and the core of your soul, and it’s like a delicately fierce punch straight in the heart.  After a healthy listen to Time Thief, I’d probably say that “Run” is just about the most straightforward and nearly ‘normal’ tune that she’s got within the lineup here to a degree, but the performance all-around is exceptional, the song is breathtakingly beautiful, devastating beyond words too…I love this kind of stuff.  You really feel the vulnerability and open honesty in her writing on this song, and I could certainly make a strong argument that her vocals on “Run” might very well be the finest highlight on the entire record.

She’s playin’ with a great band too y’all…these musicians are all exceptional talent and they play on a very unified front – you can hear that in the way they move on “Swim” right off the bat, and in the way they stop/start throughout a track like “End Of Times.”  To me, they’re the main strength of a song like this third one, and they all deserve a shout-out…Chris Dudley, Justin Tibbs, André Frazier, and Rachel Osherow – you rock and provide stellar support to Haze all-around.  Don’t get it twisted & don’t get me wrong – Angie’s always going to sound fantastic, and she does from the lead to the background without a doubt…sometimes the difference is gonna be found in the lyricism, which is the case here.  For the most part, I think the world of what Haze not only writes, but what she chooses to write about as well.  In the case of “End Of Times,” I felt like there are a few spots where she’s missed a bit of an opportunity to really say what she wants to say, in favor of a couple things we’ve heard throughout so much music out there/the right rhyming words.  It happens to the best of us, and no matter how great we are in our art, we can lose focus on what’s most important and what separates us from the rest.  It’s interesting in the sense that it’s the only track where I felt that way about her lyricism…the other cuts on this record are pretty much bulletproof.  I could go into specifics, but honestly, I feel like she knows exactly what I’m talkin’ about because this is the only track that goes in that direction…which perhaps in itself is some kind of statement that maybe I’m missing…maybe she’s making a larger point somehow with the route she takes on “End Of Times.”  Ultimately, I think there’s a lot of other great aspects to the song that still make it well worth our while to listen to, like the ending in particular.  It’s risky of course to add in some Trump samples given the fact that we’re all so damn tired of hearing anything that comes out of his mouth at this point, but it does help to reinforce what Haze is ultimately saying to us on “End Of Times.”

A track like “BeneathTheDirt” is likely to take a bit longer to catch on with the masses out there perhaps, but if you’re a fan of art & music combined, you gotta be blown away by the innovation you find in a song like this one.  Structurally, it instantly gives you a tantalizing & engaging design that’s decisively different than so much of what’s out there…and it’s poetic AF y’all.  This is where Angie is pretty much at peak strength in many ways…she’s thriving in the true art of making music, and created a compelling experience that tells a bold story, completely with haunting harmonies and killer lead vocals.  These are the kinds of songs that reveal how far ahead of the game that Angie Haze truly is…and in all honesty, it’s probably gonna take a minute or two for the general public to catch onto something like this.  What is inarguable, is the quality of her vocals and the way she sings – Angie is never anything short of stunning at all times, no matter what gear you find her in.  She’s doing so many things incredibly right and found so many remarkable ways of enticing our ears from the lead to the details in the backing layers…tracks like “BeneathTheDirt” leave us all with no questions about the commitment and effort she puts into everything she does when it comes time to record.  I love the whispers, I love the ambient sounds like the wind that enter into the mix…it’s all great, and I truly hope that it all gets the recognition the effort deserves…because I’d be the first to admit, it’s actually really tough to take your ears off of Haze’s voice.

“SHADEDWELLERS” has a snazzy beat to it, and just prior to the first minute mark, you’ll hear one of Angie & her crew’s most explosively radiant moments as this song shifts gears into its main hooks.  As a whole, I felt like this track had a really positive message found at the core of it all…very much about finding your light, embracing it, and not being afraid of the trolls out there throwin’ shade…or at least, that’s what I took out of it.  It could also be interpreted as a song that’s about making sure you’re living up to your full potential without slipping into the shadows and obscurity…much like the chorus of this tune, it’s about makin’ some NOISE and leaving your stamp on this planet somehow, ain’t it?  There’s a good chance I’d be taking a look at “SHADEDWELLERS” as a potential single, even with it being as anti-typical as it still is by comparison to so much of what is out there in the scene right now.  It’s interesting how much of these songs end up with Angie carrying the bulk of the weight in the vocals…it’s not like the band ain’t doing anything, you know what I mean?  There’s still an impressive amount of sound goin’ on and everyone’s playing a significant role – but I suppose that’s the genuine effect of having a singer with the undeniable X-factor.  Anyhow.  Like I was saying, there are definitely single-worthy hooks to be found inside of “SHADEDWELLERS” even if they’re not what listeners would typically expect; it’s still a song that’s noticeably different, but also contains multiple access points that people could get right into.

I very much loved the fact that, no matter which track popped up next, it continually felt like Angie had planned for something different from the last track we heard.  It gives this album a tremendous amount of versatility and diversity to it – like, she even starts spittin’ seriously venomous bars on “Do You Dare” for example, which is yet another style/sound she’s put into this record amongst the many she’s displayed already with her band.  “Do You Dare” is a BOLD track y’all…the kind of BOLD that the world needs much more of…the kind of track that reveals just how fearless Angie genuinely IS, and why she’s so willing to blaze her own trail.  “Do You Dare” is basically the anti-Weinstein-anthem that the industry needs…it’s a song that calls out the shadiest parts of what happens in the back room deals to make it to the center of the spotlight – and it’s a straight-up LARGE middle finger to all that, 100%.  As it should be!  Haze fully calls out the disgusting misogyny and depravity of the music business/entertainment industry without apologies or any fucks given…and in doing so, she’s giving voice to the many out there that have been coerced, exploited, and/or forced into compromising who they are for the sake of their five minutes of fame.  Anyhow.  There are times where I feel like it’s best to explain things to y’all, and others where it’s much more important for me to communicate that the material speaks strongly on its own behalf.  “Do You Dare” is definitely one of my favorites on the album, and I’d presume it’s a favorite of Angie’s fans too…to me, this track feels like a statement cut that draws a line in the sand between those out there that are really hearing her & what she’s really all about, and those that don’t.  Nuff said.

There’s a very large part of me that’s curious about how an album like Time Thief will be received by the masses out there…I’m honestly not sure they’ll really know what to make of it!  Ain’t that just the truth about the perception of real art though?  It provokes all kinds of reactions, thoughts, and feelings – and essentially, challenges what we think we know – this single record manages to do all of that, completely.  And I’m here for it!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a music critic and it’s in my nature to put things under the microscope for this reason or that, but if you’re askin’ me whether or not I support an artist like Angie Haze, the answer’s an easy, emphatic YES.  When I said she’s ahead of the rest out there, believe me, I include myself in that assessment.  I’ve been listening to music long enough to know when someone’s onto something that’ll take me some time to catch up to, and I ain’t ashamed to admit it.  Like, listen to a track like “PaintTheSky” and the way things are structured, how it moves, and how genuinely different it is from basically everything else that’s likely on your playlist – do you realize how difficult that IS to accomplish with ANYTHING in a world that feels like it’s shown us all there is to see and hear?  So yeah – like I said…don’t get things twisted y’all, I’m all for true innovators and courageous artists like Angie that are unafraid to BE different and embrace that with open arms.  “PaintTheSky” is a cool tune – this whole ALBUM is FULL of rad material…and I feel like the more time we get to spend with it, the more we’ll all end up appreciating it.  That being said, I’ma say it again Angie…the people need access to it…all of’em.

Even when the record drifts into more tangible, melodically-driven tunes like “MyLUCKDRAGON!,” Angie and her band tend to move in ways you don’t typically expect in music, making even the most pleasing sounds to your ears still become a challenge to regular convention.  Ain’t nothing wrong with going that route of course, just usually takes a while longer to establish that kind of vibe with the ol’ masses out there listening, because it’s artistic on a level they don’t usually choose to experience.  Which is sad, and you can fight me on that point if ya like, but I’ll simply point to where the mainstream exists and tell ya that this ain’t that.  It might be better than that, and I’d probably argue that it IS…at the very least, what Angie’s been creating is much more substantial that what you’ll find in the shallow waters of the ol’ mainstream…but that doesn’t make the road to reaching the ears of the people any easier.  Tracks like “MyLUCKDRAGON!” certainly have an upbeat disposition on their side, with hooks that should connect with the people out there too…the road to the top might not always be an easy one, nor should it be, but at the same time, it’s not out of the realm of possibility – Angie Haze could very well catch on like wildfire at some point along her journey due to all the effort that she and her band-mates are puttin’ in.

Dig the seriousness that instantly creeps into this Creep Pop they’re making on “SeizedAtNight,” – and I love the fact that Haze takes on the wack-ass immigration policies of a broken system and hypocritical nation that always seems to have forgotten where their land came from.  Don’t get it twisted – I’m here throwing stones in a glass house in that regard…I’m living in Canada, where when it comes to hypocrisy in that regard, we’re still among the world’s leading exporters.  I very much appreciate the fact that Angie’s been willing to speak her piece on a wide range of issues, topics, and themes that most folks wouldn’t dare to…that might be the very thing that resonates with me even more-so than the music itself…her intentions to use her platform not just to entertain, but to sincerely inform, are nothing short of entirely admirable.  You listen to a track like “SeizedAtNight” and recognize that she’s doling out the REALNESS y’all…unfiltered, raw, and real…like I told ya from the get-go, she’s not fucking around with this album, she’s had plenty of important things to say, and I hope you’re all listening.  Haze pretty much lays out the history of the land many of us are standing on in black & white facts if you’re asking me, and she certainly makes it sound a whole lot better to listen to than the reality of the situation really is – but that’s a solid method that gets people actually listening.  The more they listen, the more they absorb, the more they evolve…like I told ya at the start, artists like Angie are crucial to our collective education.

This has been quite the experience!  To be truthful, it takes a whole lot of mental muscle to get through an album like this if you’re really listening to it.  Content-wise, there’s just so much more here than you typically find in most records, and a level of detail that you don’t often stumble across.  Listen to things like the layers of vocals in a song like “Time Thief” and you’ll know what I mean.  Angie’s had several moments along the way throughout this record where she’s reminded me a lot of Alanis probably more-so than any other artist I could cite in comparison, and that’s factoring in the similarities between the way she sings and what she chooses to write about as well.  There’s no doubt that, while someone like Alanis has flirted back & forth with issues that affect this planet and written the occasional tune that deals with’em, by comparison, Angie is already choosing to swing a much bigger bat.  That being said, when it comes to the graceful and bold mix of how they sound & how they sing, you listen to a track like the finale on this record and realize that none of us can escape some kind of comparison.  “Time Thief” is an excellent track to finish things off and quite the remarkable tune when it comes right down to it…like so much of what Haze has created, the dimension and depth of her art speaks profoundly on its own behalf.  She’s definitely heading in the right direction – I love how all-in an album like Time Thief sounds from start to finish…Angie Haze is a visionary artist that creates music guaranteed to move you in some way shape or form, and better yet, she writes songs that are certain to make you think about the way things are & consider whether or not there are perhaps better ways to be living on this planet.

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