Bar Exam: Taelor Gray – The Love Don’t Last Long (Album)
A One Listen Album Review
Taelor Gray’s album “The Love Don’t Last Long” dropped in May and was the most recent album suggested to get a bar exam through a poll on our social media. I’m very familiar with Taelor, from his “Sellout” mixtape to the “Mocker and The Monarch” project. So I am very pleased to bring you my thoughts today. I’ll walk through each song as I listen to it the first time.
Just so you know, I feel like giving myself rules upon my first listen takes the fun out of the listening experience. This is a true first listen the way I have always done it. I pause, rewind to hear a line again, and take breaks if I need to.
Gotta Make It – Begins with bells, there’s a woman on a PA speaking. Not really sure I can understand it. Taelor comes in with a really relaxed flow. Introspective and deep. Full of double entendres. I really dig it.
“Still it’s all relative, I’m fighting for my relatives/Across the color spectrum, it’s a Cross that really kept us/I still believe in dreams, ’cause these DJs keep on sleepin’/My songs don’t make the mixes, but I mix it up with teachers/Exegesis if you pay attention, the commentary’s English/Read all these interpretations until I’m left with Jesus”
The music bed under him hasn’t really changed up to this point, but going into the next stanza he’s adding intensity as the drums lay in. All the sudden we’re elevated and he’s murdering this vibe. He closes out this song with somewhat of a hook. The way this track grows is great.
Politics – Trap beat here with a good hook. Throughout these verses there are some echoes and ad libs added in. He’s tearing down the idea of power through politics, and social constructs it seems. It’s all a facade in order for people to take advantage.
“Everything you thought you knew is questionable/Everything is upside down when you dying just to live like you must find out/What’s the real and the alien, familiar and Stranger Things/Can’t no politician make you feel what you made to be/That’s politics that’s positive they selling you that contraband/That’s contradiction, these consequences, all they sentences in comic sans”
Giving Up – Man the keys on this one… and how the beat fades in. I also love the different layers of what Taelor can offer. He’s got confidence in what he brings whether it’s bars or melodies, but he’s not in your face with it. It rolls out of his mouth effortlessly. The melody in this instrumental is so captivating. The topic of this song has me thinking of 1 Corinthians 13:11 – When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. It’s a tremendous track.
This Will Never Last – Steel drums vibe at the top. Beat comes in all chill. More laid back rhymes from Taelor here at the beginning. He’s speaking about truths pertaining to the Christian Music industry it seems.
“Ain’t nobody left to still inspire me/Ain’t nobody real in these environments/I just see magicians/Rabbit feces in they dad caps/Sell it like you Christian/Disappear when you talk ASCAP/No wonder you can’t feel it when you listen/How you for the people when you distant/You can’t build a kingdom with a business/Disciples start to look like politicians”
Okay, he’s got some good points here. Speaking on how uninspiring some of this is, and how it’s not gonna last. Shouts out some of the real ones in his mind at the end. Very nice track.
Atlanta – Starts out sounding like the suicide hotline song from Logic. “I don’t wanna die alone.” There’s some static in the track. WOOOOO then the beat drops. Switching it up. A bit more upbeat. Feels like sunny skies and roses. Feels great. I think topically he’s metaphorically speaking about heaven.
Mystery Clones – Dre Murray begins at the top with an intense verse. The instrumental is equally intense. It’s got a funky bass line and a riffing piano feel as well as some thick synth pads throughout. It’s a quick shot in the arm as the album moves on.
HGP – This is a challenge issued by Taelor to lean in to the Holy Spirit and His work in your life. The piano is moving in the instrumental similarly to the last song. How Taelor chooses to flow over the top of it is a bit unorthodox. The soul vocals in this track are moving. We’re walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, and we need to live like we believe it.
“That power when you can’t move/Power when you empty/Power at your weakest moment/Power when they tempt you/That power when it’s complex/And power when it’s simple/The power when it’s fake to you/And power when it’s, when it’s real”
At this point in the album I’m becoming a bit weary. I feel a slump beginning. Some of the beats line up to be the same in my mind, and while the subject matter is impacting and thought provoking, the music isn’t moving me as much as it was at the start. I really appreciate Taelor’s intentionality to speak with conviction over certain issues, I’m just ready for the music to gain some momentum here in this spot because as a listener he’s losing me.
No Warning – Piano riffs at the top of this one. Taelor’s tone is melancholy and introspective.
“Now I’m distant like how can I/Say these theme songs to crown my God/He watching from the falcon eye — I’m hidden on the mountain side/Scribble down these psalms, couple decades in these palms, desperate prayers done hit these walls/The acoustics bounce ’em back upon this sinner/I’m jealous of your strength and my choices left me bitter/Now all these stages feel like winter/When everything is cold then somehow I forget her”
He’s sharing his failures in such a poetic way and then just leaves it at that. Quite a few of these songs are only just a verse and then we move on. It keeps the pace of the album flowing well, but again to me makes this section seem like a group of carbon copies.
Money – The beat here has picked up significantly. There’s a forward motion, samples, and it only slows up a bit for a half-time feel at the hook. Once again, he brings the concept straight to the point, fleshes it out with a verse, and doesn’t waste much time unpacking it any farther. Here he’s talking about how he doesn’t want to be selfish in life or in his money management.
Keep On – The instrumental on this one is a little different. It’s got a big synth vibe to it. Taelor introduces a hook at the top that gets returned to numerous times. His verse shares about being full of integrity, changing circumstances, and ultimately surrendering control. Angie Rose comes in with a melody and then even drops a few bars herself. This song feels more complete than the previous tracks, and feels great.
Say Goodbye – Taelor taps his brother Christon for this one. Taelor’s rhymes in the first verse are really strong. There’s a lot of great imagery in how he writes, and he understands the value of keeping a rhyme moving. Rather than staying with a scheme for too long, he moves from thought to thought easily. He’s very good at staying on point.
“Yo… A hot rainy day with a winter time chill/That’s how it feel when a sinner’s mind heals/Enter God’s will with art and simple skill/Leave you spinning in the riddle like the middle of the will/Been a minute, tryin not to get to sentimental with my sayonara/Thats why I’ll say all my goodbyes tomorrow/It ain’t promised to me but I’m feeling confident/That’s the type of faith that doesn’t contradict”
To me this track sounds like someone sharing about saying goodbye to his past once he’s solidified in his future with Christ. There’s a dying that happens where you have to shed everything you once knew. Christon touches on this even further, and I feel like I’m finally out of my slump. The synths on this track are spectacular.
Keep Dreaming – The sample at the top of this is dope. It feels great. I feel like we needed this one earlier. Seriously, and this flow is so on point. Word play and rhymes galore. No hook, just getting at it. Shoot. Might be the best track on the album.
To close out my thoughts on this one, I have to say Taelor and his writing skills can match up with just about anyone. He’s got what it takes and the talent is magnificent. My hang up with this project though was the group of tracks in the middle that seemed to run in and out of each other without much change. I felt a lull in energy and creative inspiration. Those tracks I struggled through also seemed to only carry one verse each, and I guess I wasn’t feeling like they were hitting as well as they could have. A lot of times a slump happens for me where the writing is sub par or the topics are corny. I think the issue here was different though, because the writing was fine. It was the familiarity from one song to the next when it came to the musicality and overall tone. There’s not much more to cover for me, but that spot impacted the score. I’ve gotta say it’s At The Bar.